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Lonely bearer of bakery burden

Calcutta, July 20: Shibendu Saha’s grudge against his father was growing: several times over, he had tried to convince him that uncle Amalendu was drawing the family business deeper and deeper into debt. But Nabendu Saha would not listen.

Frustrated, Shibendu chose what appeared the only way out: he killed his parents, wife and children in their Tollygunge home and then hanged himself.

Three days after the killings, police sources hinted that family strife and deep debt could have forced Shibendu’s hand. Although his father and uncle were partners in the family’s business, Amalendu was allegedly eating into the profits and pushing Nabendu deeper into debt.

But Nabendu would invariably turn a deaf ear to his son. Family members who were questioned claimed Amalendu had taken over most of the postal savings instruments and Nabendu’s salary and left the burden of repaying several bank loans on Shibendu.

The owner of a chicken shop adjacent to the Sahas’ on Tollygunge Road said Nabendu had of late become an infrequent visitor to their shop. “Over the months, Nabendu became irregular in the shop. He preferred staying home to showing up here. Soon after, Amalendu too started bunking. The shop would open late and close early but no one seemed bothered,” he said.

The net outcome was that Shibendu was left to manage the business and got gradually sucked into a vicious cycle of loans, repayments and more loans. Investigators said Amalendu would take all the income — whether from business or debts repaid — and force Shibendu to scout for methods to repay debts every month.

“We have found that at least thrice the uncle seized payments that should have gone to Nabendu,” an officer of Charu market police station said.

Police sources said Nabendu probably did not take on his brother because he wanted to use Amalendu to tackle his other equally troublesome brothers who own two bakeries. So, when ill health forced him to take a backseat, he left everything to Amalendu. “It appears Amalendu had pushed his nephew into a corner from where it was impossible for him to repay the debts,” a police officer said.

Sources in the detective department said all Shibendu’s bottled-up tension must have erupted on Saturday. “It is difficult for a human being to carry out such killings. Something drastic seems to have happened to him, but it will remain a mystery as he is dead and gone.”

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