This was a murder case that was all but shut, until an arrest on Wednesday made the police reopen it. In February 1999, a retired company executive, living alone in his Lake Avenue home and looked after by a ‘governess’, had been strangled to death. His decomposed body was found four days after the crime, when neighbours complained of a stench emanating from the apartment.
The man was 70-year-old Anil Kumar Mitra; his wife had died two years earlier and his children live abroad. The ‘governess’ was 33-year-old Gita Roy, with a husband who lives in Raidighi, South 24-Parganas, and who was a frequent visitor to the Mitra home.
Preliminary investigation revealed that Gita and her husband had killed the man to rob him. “Anil Mitra had been strangled with a wire and the contents of his cupboard were cleared out,” said deputy commissioner, detective department, Soumen Mitra.
“It has to be an inside job,” the police had said then. And the only other insider, apart from Anil Mitra, had been Gita.
A hunt was launched for Gita. A police team searched for her in Raidighi, but neither the woman nor her husband could be located. Gradually, the search petered out and, for all practical purposes, the case was shut.
“As investigations could not proceed without arresting or interrogating the prime accused, the officers who were probing the case were asked to treat it as closed,” said deputy commissioner Mitra.
Suddenly, on Tuesday night, the police received information that Gita and her husband had been spotted at Kankania, in Raidighi. “We rushed across a team of six officers,” Mitra said.
On reaching Raidighi, the team contacted the South 24-Parganas police and chalked a plan to capture the suspected killers. The men spent most of Wednesday at the marketplace in search of Gita and her husband, but they were not to be found. Just as they were about to leave, they spotted Gita boarding a bus. They dragged her out. Initially, Gita denied she had anything to do with the crime.
However, under sustained interrogation, she broke down and confessed that she and her husband had murdered the old man. “Before killing him, we tied his hands and feet and later, wrapped his body in a sheet and shoved it under the bed,” Gita confessed.