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Elderly couple killed

Calcutta, April 18: A businessman and his wife were today found with their heads smashed in their apartment in a Camac Street high-rise.

The back of his head battered, Tara Chand Banka (68) was found face down on a drawing-room divan of flat 708 in Mansarovar building. His wife Sarda was dead in her bed in the main bedroom with the left side of her head smashed.

Their domestic help Pancham, the prime accused in the murder, is absconding. A heavy iron rod was used to bludgeon the couple to death.

Pancham, who was recruited only a week ago, was seen leaving the building with a big yellow bag shortly after the murders are believed to have been committed.

'Prima facie, it is a case of murder for gain. A search is on for the servant who is either from Bihar or Jharkhand,' said Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner (I), detective department.

Security guard Baros, who introduced the domestic help to the couple, and Pancham's cousin Ramu, who works in the neighbourhood, have been detained for questioning. Several police teams have fanned out to hunt for Pancham.

'The main safe, containing cash and jewellery, was not touched. But some cash, jewellery and imitation jewellery in the almirah in the main bedroom are missing.

'All the 10 rings on Banka's fingers, his gold chain and the jewellery worn by his wife were not touched,' Singh said.

'The murderer probably carried his own blood-soaked clothes with him.'

The Bankas have an electrical accessories shop and a specialised cable export business. They have two shops on the ground floor of the 10-storey building.

Banka bought the flat in 1974 but shifted to an apartment on New Road, Alipore, in 1985 where he stayed with sons Suresh, Dinesh and Rajesh and daughter Madhu. Some four months ago, he returned to the Mansarovar flat with his wife.

The apartment has a small servant's room where Pancham used to stay. This room is detached from the rest of the flat by a door which is kept locked at night.

'Banka had the habit of collecting the milk packet at 6 am and then sleeping in the drawing-cum-dining room,' Singh said. This morning, too, the milkman delivered a packet of milk, which the police found on the dining table.

Ashok Jhunjhunwala, the Bankas' neighbour in flat 707, said the masseur came as usual at 8 am and rang the bell. 'When no one responded for 20 minutes, the Bankas' driver was informed who tried to get in touch through the building intercom. Even then there was no response,' he said.

Soon after, the sons were contacted. They tried in vain to call Banka on his mobile and the land line. Around 9 am, they broke open the door and found their parents lying in pools of blood.

A relative, Sajjan Kumar, said the family was a close-knit one and the sons lunched with their parents on most days. 'They came to lead a quiet life here. We never thought they would come to such an end.'

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