Cop starts shooting on busy Kolkata street; kills 1 passer-by, then himself
Rima Sinha, the 28-year-old woman killed in Kolkata on Friday when a policeman started firing indiscriminately, was a physiotherapist and her family’s primary earning member
Kolkata: A 28-year-old police constable posted at Kolkata’s busy Park Circus post on Friday afternoon fired indiscriminately from his rifle killing a woman and injuring two others before shooting himself.
The incident took place at Lower Range Road, about 500 metres from the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission.
Vineet Kumar Goyal, the commissioner of Kolkata Police, said the constable, Choudup Lepcha had gone home to Kalimpong in north Bengal on a 10-day leave and rejoined on Thursday. Goyal said he was recruited last year on compassionate grounds since his father, also a policeman, died in service in 2017.
It is not clear what provoked Choudup Lepcha, a constable with the fifth battalion of the Kolkata Armed Police, to walk out of the police kiosk where he was posted at about 2.30pm and start opening fire. “We have to investigate why he opened fire and then shot himself,” said Goyal.
When Yasir Ali, a local resident, heard the first gunshot, he assumed it was a case of accidental firing. Then, he wondered if the policeman was practising or something.
“But soon I realized that he was shooting (indiscriminately). I ran to move out of his sight and took shelter in a shop. The shopkeeper pulled down the shutter and we could still hear gunshots,” Ali said.
Witnesses said they heard at least 10 gunshots.
Another resident Arafat Mollah too ran. ‘I saw him firing indiscriminately and running down the road,” Mollah said. His brother sustained injuries in the shooting and was taken to hospital when the firing stopped.
Locals said the street, one of the city’s busiest, emptied out within seconds. People scurried across the street to take shelter and hid in shops, restaurants, garages and houses.
When the shooting finally stopped, they found Rima Sinha, a 28-year-old physiotherapist, lying grievously injured. Sinha was riding pillion on a motorcycle on the street when a bullet hit her.
Her mother said she left her rented house in Howrah’s Dasnagar locality, about 15km from Park Circus, at around noon and told them that she will return late. Their landlord learnt about Rima Sinha’s death from television and told the mother about it.
“I can’t believe that my daughter won’t return home anymore. Talks were going on for her marriage and today her would-be husband’s family was scheduled to come to our house,” her wailing mother told reporters.
Rima was the family’s primary earning member. Her father hadn’t had a job in five years. Her younger brother is in college and her mother, a housewife.
Goyal said three persons injured in the shooting were rushed to the nearby Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital. She died soon after.
“The injuries of the other two persons were not so serious. While one sustained an injury on his shoulder, another was injured in his arm,” said Goyal.
A kilometre from the spot where Choudup Lepcha opened fire, hundreds of Muslims were holding a protest against the controversial remarks made by suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma. “Primarily what we have got is that the incident has no connection with the protests. Probably, he was suffering from some sort of depression,” said Praveen Kumar Tripathi, additional commissioner of police.
“Preliminary investigation and local eyewitnesses said that he fired indiscriminately from his service rifle and then shot himself. We are going through footage of CCTv cameras installed in the area and gathering details from locals,” said Tripathi.