The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Realtor rift twist to VIP murder

A contractor was arrested early on Sunday and the police went on a hunt in Bihar for his associate, claiming a breakthrough in the July 8 murder of Baguiati housewife Gunjan Tanwani.

After a marathon grilling of contractor Bhagaban Das, a resident of Narkeldanga, police said Gunjan was a victim of real estate rivalry. Bhagaban and his associate Bhola Das, now absconding, had killed her to get even with the promoter of Natural Heights, the newly-constructed highrise on VIP Road, into which the Tanwanis were the first to move in. The Das duo was angry with the promoter for his refusal to square off its dues.

“We have been largely successful in reconstructing the crime,” said Basudeb Bag, police superintendent of North 24-Parganas. “Bhagaban provided us with a description of the crime, the circumstances and also a few leads.” Gunjan’s mobile phone, which had gone missing, was recovered from him.

However, Bag’s claim triggered a chain of unanswered questions because, neither the victim nor her family was involved with any real estate deal.

After interrogating Bhagaban, police came to know that on the day of the murder, he and Bhola had entered Gunjan’s flat between 1 pm and 1.30 pm. “They said they had come to inspect the walls and check whether rainwater was seeping in,” said Bag.

Gunjan was alone, the dog was chained and the music system was on. “Bhagaban locked the door and attacked the woman,” said Bag. “As she slumped to the floor, Bhola took out a knife and stabbed her twice.”

During investigation, the detectives had collected the call statement of Gunjan’s cellphone. After going through it, they found Bhagaban’s telephone number, from where a number of calls had been made to the cellphone. They tapped the cellphone and started monitoring the incoming and outgoing calls.

“The only mistake Bhagaban made was using the cellphone even after a week of the incident. We traced the phone to Narkeldanga,” said Supriyo Das, officer-in-charge of Baguiati police station.

But the motive remained murky. “Bhagaban is to get Rs 1.5 lakh from Mahesh Sharma, who promoted Natural Heights. Unable to recover his dues, he decided to take revenge,” said Bag, adding: “He chalked out a plan to defame the promoter and create terror in the housing estate, so that no one would occupy the remaining seven apartments.”

But the following points remain unanswered:

§Is failure to recover Rs 1.5 lakh from a promoter reason enough for a person to kill an innocent woman'

§According to the earlier police version, the murder took place between 7 pm and 9 pm and the body was still warm when they reached the spot. Now, they say it took place between 1 pm and 1.30 pm. How was the body warm six hours after the incident'

§Police claim they recovered plumbing tools from the spot. Neither of the accused is a plumber.

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