The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Human torch in dark night
Battered, bruised & burnt

Behala's darkest night, the amavasya on Wednesday, was first punctuated by torchlights of a frenetic search and then blazed by a human torch of mob fury.

The search for five-year-old Rick Nath ended with his body being found in the septic pit of neighbour Rabindra Nath Bose.

It was close to midnight on Sadhan Hari Mukherjee Road.

From then on, mob mayhem ruled the temple stretch off James Long Sarani. First, the two-roomed house adjoining the temple was ransacked.

'As soon as the search party discovered Rick's body in the septic pit on the Bose premises, a cry of 'murderers' rose from the ranks,' recounted Ramen Adhikari, grand-uncle of the boy.

A group tore into 8C, Sadhan Hari Mukherjee Road, smashing furniture and tearing upholstery. All the time, the cries of 'murder' and 'finish them' kept growing.

It was close to 1 am on Sadhan Hari Mukherjee Road.

The Boses ' Rabindra Nath, wife Bela and son Kaushik ' were dragged out on to the main road.

The ranks of the outraged had swelled as local residents were joined by 'outsiders'. They were all baying for the Boses' blood.

A few personnel from Behala thana landed up, only to realise they were hopelessly outnumbered and didn't stand a chance of restoring order.

'Don't hand them over to the police. Beat them to death here; hang them here' were some of the blood-curdling calls from the crowd.

And the women were in the forefront, beating up the trio they held responsible for the death of little Rick.

It was close to 2 am on Sadhan Hari Mukherjee Road.

The outnumbered cops had called in additional forces and the Lalbazar headquarters had been alerted to rush in Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel.

But the men in uniform remained mute spectators as the Boses lay on the road, battered, bruised and bleeding.

With no resistance from either police or RAF, the mob had saved the worst for last.

It was close to 2.30 am on Sadhan Hari Mukherjee Road.

'I woke up to see a crowd surrounding Rabindra Nath and Bela lying on the road, while a few RAF personnel watched from a distance,' said a neighbour.

'Burn them here, finish them off' the cries grew more bloodthirsty.

Son Kaushik had already been beaten senseless and so the mob had lost interest in the 30-year-old Mahestala municipality worker.

They focused all their fury on the husband and wife, lying helpless on the road. The two were torched. 'I could see the woman burning; she tried to get up and then collapsed,' said a neighbour.

As the mob stepped back, the police finally stepped in, lifted the three into a van and sped off. Bela, around 50, died a few hours later. Husband Rabindra Nath escaped with burns on his left side.

'I could never have imagined that human beings were capable of such cruelty,' he moaned, from bed no. 29 in the male surgical ward of Vidyasagar Hospital.

'We wanted to hang all three, to avenge the murder of the little boy,' said a member of the mob.

That was around 3 pm on Sadhan Hari Mukherjee Road, 12 hours after Bela Bose was burnt alive.

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