Burdwan, Aug. 18: A retired merchant navy officer was throttled to death and his body burnt allegedly by his second wife and the children she bore him after a dispute over the way he wanted to divide his property.
Sailen Bhowmik, 57, was killed at Purbasthali here, about 200 km from Calcutta, early today. His wife Chhabi, 49 and daughter Mina, 21, were arrested for the “murder”. Bhowmik’s son Tirthankar is absconding.
Police said the mother and daughter have confessed to the crime. Subdivisional police officer of Kalna Rabin Mukherjee said the charred body has been recovered and sent for post-mortem. “It is very difficult to tell exactly how he was killed as the body is burnt. We have arrested Bhowmik’s wife and daughter for murdering him and for attempting to destroy evidence. They have both confessed to the crime,” Mukherjee said.
Neighbours told the police that the family had been having a fight the whole of last evening. “It was almost dawn today when suddenly Chhabi Bhowmik woke us up saying that she needed a cycle-rickshaw van as her husband had taken ill,” said Dibakar Palit, a neighbour. Palit approached “a number of traders who lived nearby” for a vehicle.
When the transport was arranged, Chhabi refused to let the men who came with the vehicle in and told them that she did not need any help. “The children will do the needful.”
Suspecting something amiss, the van-owners gathered more men and forcefully entered the opulent, two-storey house. They literally stumbled on Bhowmik’s body wrapped in cloth.
“The lady and her daughter were confined and the police were called in,” said Palit.
Bhowmik had married Chhabi 22 years ago after divorcing his first wife. His three sons by his first wife are all well settled. Two of them are in the US and the third in Mumbai. His first wife died 15 years ago but Bhowmik maintained close ties with his three sons, who visited him regularly.
The merchant navy officer had amassed enough wealth to build seven houses in Burdwan and Purulia, owned about a 100 bighas at Purbasthali and had Rs 14 lakh in the bank.
The police said Bhowmik had refused to budge from his decision to divide his property equally among six claimants — his three sons from his first wife, Chhabi, Mina and Tirthankar.
“The second wife and her children were opposed to this arrangement and demanded that his first three sons be struck off the will. After a fierce disagreement, the mother and her children committed the murder in the heat of the moment,” said one of the policemen investigating the case.