| ROOM MACABRE: The cot on which Biswanath Dutta was strangled to death (encircled) and the wall in which his body was hidden. Picture by Amit Datta
Eleven summers have passed, but the sound of a wall being broken down and the bricks being removed, one by one, continues to haunt a three-storeyed house on Beadon Street.
For, this was where Biswanath Dutta had been killed and his body hidden in a wall.
After the high court upheld the death sentences of the three involved in the murder, residents of the Beadon Street address seemed to feel that justice had finally been done. 'Cold-blooded killers don't deserve any better,' they argued.
Biswanath was strangled to death by brother Alokenath Dutta and then, in connivance with his wife and brothers-in-law, his body was walled up.
A portion of the wall in the room had been pulled down and then rebuilt.
'The Duttas used to live on the first floor. When we heard the sounds of a wall being broken and then sand and cement being taken up, we were curious,' recounted Sentu Datta, a tenant in the building. 'We were told by Alokenath that a bathroom wall that had gone damp was being repaired.'
Residents of the building were stunned when one-and-a-half months later, police raided the place, demolished a bedroom wall and pulled out the remains of Biswanath's body.
'It was all very macabre,' added Datta. 'The Duttas had left their apartment some time ago, after Biswanath mysteriously disappeared, and it had been lying empty, when the police suddenly arrived.'
The apartment was sealed and has not seen any occupant since. The room in which Biswanath was killed remains locked, but the rest of the house is now being used as a dump by the tenants. The door to the room in which Biswanath's body had been buried in the wall has been painted green, with two red crosses across it.
'This is to ward off evil spirits,' explained Rabin Patra, who lives on the ground floor. 'We were terrified when we learnt what had happened and every time we hear the sound of a wall being demolished, the horror of 1994 comes back to haunt us' We couldn't sleep for days after that.'
Sandip Singh, now 24, who at the time of Biswanath's killing was a student of Class VII, recalled how in the interim, between the Duttas leaving the house and the police discovering the body, he used to go to the empty rooms to study.
'The very thought sends a chill down my spine even today,' he admitted.