The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cousin cleared of teen murder

Calcutta, Sept. 23: Meenakshi Sarkar walked out free from an Alipore court today, leaving behind a trail of questions on the tragedy and trauma of two college-going cousins and a boyfriend of one of them.

Additional district and sessions judge Amitava Das found too many holes in the prosecution’s reconstruction of the crime to convict Meenakshi and co-accused Pulak Bhandari for the murder of her cousin, Papiya, in January.

The 19-year-old Papiya, a student of Vivekananda College in Thakurpukur, was found murdered near her home at Bainchberia in Usthi of South 24-Parganas. She had left home the previous afternoon with cousin Meenakshi (also 19 and a student of Diamond Harbour’s Fakirchand College) for a tailor’s at Behala. Meenakshi returned home alone that evening and said she lost her cousin in the crowd.

Papiya’s lifeless and mutilated body was found the next morning from a marshy grassland.

Taking only a few days to “crack” the case, the police identified Meenakshi and the 21-year-old Pulak as Papiya’s killers. The police claimed that Papiya was against her cousin’s affair with Pulak because of his caste and had threatened to “expose” them. Meenakshi and Pulak plotted then to kill her, the police said.

But the “evidence” the police brought to court did not stand the judge’s scrutiny.

First, the post-mortem report had put the time of Papiya’s death around midnight. But Meenakshi and Pulak were at their respective residences by 8 pm on the night Papiya was murdered. “So how could they have murdered Papiya'” the judge asked.

Second, the police claimed that Meenakshi “confessed” her crime to her aunt. This, judge Das said, would not do as it was “extra-judicial confession” (not made directly to the police or the court).

Third, the police claimed to have found the “weapon used” (a long knife) but admitted that the recovery was made five days after the crime without explaining the cause of the delay. There was also no bloodstain on the clothes of the accused.

“The evidence brought before me failed to convince me without any room for doubt that the murder was committed by Meenakshi and Pulak,” Judge Das said.

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