The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Toddler testimony pins death charge on father

Calcutta, Sept. 29: On Sunday, September 15, Subir Das was arrested after the “unnatural death” of his wife, Geeta, who was burnt at his Baishnabghata residence. But murder charges could not be framed against him as “there was neither any witness nor any evidence to support us”, said a senior police officer.

On Sunday, September 29, the picture changed. The couple’s three-year-old son, Kelo, helped police frame murder charges against his father, describing how Subir had doused Geeta with kerosene and set her on fire. “He told us how he witnessed the murder and we recorded Kelo’s statement to frame the charges against his father,’’ deputy superintendent of police (town) Subhankar Chatterjee said.

Geeta and Subir lived in Baishnabghata near Garia since tying the knot eight years ago. Subir worked in a private firm and Geeta would take up jobs to add to the family income.

Things started souring with Subir objecting to Geeta going to work and the latter taking a strong exception to her husband’s regular drinking, police said. Marital discord followed, domestic violence, too. Neighbours told police Subir was a “big spender’’ and Geeta supported the children’s education with her income.

“Their relation took a nose-dive a couple of months ago when he beat her up so much that she had to be admitted to the local hospital for treatment,” an official said. Subir was arrested then, but obtained bail.

Since then, Kelo and his six-year-old brother, Sujay, stayed at an aunt’s house nearby.

Kelo told investigators that on September 15 — when he had gone home for a brief stay — his father returned home drunk and had a tiff with his mother. Subir then doused Geeta with kerosene and, after pushing Kelo, who had rushed to his mother, away to the corner of the room, threw his lit lighter at her.

“As he saw his mother’s sari go up in flames, Kelo ran out of the house to inform his aunt, Shukla, and her husband, Suman,’’ Chatterjee said.

Suman and Shukla rushed with Sujay within minutes, but by then Geeta was in flames. Helped by neighbours, they put out the fire and took her to the nearest hospital. Geeta battled for her life for a couple of days, but succumbed to her injuries.

“Without a witness, the incident could easily have been passed off as suicide,” an official said. It was here that Kelo came into the picture. “The little boy was in a state of trauma and it took him some time to calm his nerves and give a first-person account,” Chatterjee said.

Trains delayed: A goods train derailed near Howrah station this afternoon, throwing traffic in the south-eastern section out of gear. Several trains, including Shatabdi Express, Dhouli Express and Falaknama Express, coming to Howrah and those leaving the station were delayed by over three hours.

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