| A photograph of Rick who was found dead in the septic pit of a neighbour’s house
Calcutta, Dec. 2: An enraged mob set fire to a woman and her husband after the body of a five-year-old boy was found in the septic tank of the family’s house at Behala last night in one of the goriest incidents ever to have happened in the city.
Bela Bose, around 50, died later and her husband Rabindra Nath and son Kaushik ' unaware of her death ' were being treated for burn and severe injuries in hospital.
Just before midnight, a group of local people searching for the missing boy, Rick Nath, found his body in the pit of the Boses’ residence and dragged the three out of the house, first hitting them with rods and bamboo sticks and then setting Bela and Rabindra Nath afire as their son lay unconscious.
“There was no way we could protect ourselves. Everyone was beating us and even as we screamed for help, no one would protest. Unable to bear the pain, I lost sense,” said 29-year-old Kaushik from his hospital bed.
A team of the Rapid Action Force was at the spot as the incident unfolded, apparently heavily outnumbered by the mob that had swelled through the evening and night, thirsting for the Boses’ blood because Rick was allegedly last seen with Bela in the morning.
The two families live in back-to-back houses and, according to neighbours, had a property dispute.
Rick’s body was found with a piece of cloth round his neck and his hands and feet tied with parts from his torn vest. Preliminary police reports suggest the boy was strangled.
Around 10.30 on Thursday, Rick went to his grandmother Sikha Adhikari’s house, opposite his Sadhan Hari Mukherjee Road residence, and after spending some time there, returned to mother Ruby.
His 65-year-old grandmother had accompanied him, and as she was speaking to her daughter, Rick wriggled out and ran into the Bose residence.
Only Bela was present in the house at the time. Soon enough, Rick rushed out but was drawn back to the Bose house by the sound of a whistle Bela blew to attract his attention. That was the last anyone saw of Rick, who was 24 days from his sixth birthday.
“Almost an hour later when the boy didn’t return to his mother, the Naths started hunting for him. First, the houses Rick would usually visit were scanned and then his friends’ houses at a distance. Around 4.30 pm, a missing diary was lodged with the local police station,” said Bimal Guha Roy, a neighbour.
After a daylong search, during which the boy’s slippers were found close to a nearby pond but his body was not in the water and two calls to his father’s mobile promised to deliver him and did not, local people split into groups to comb every house.
Around 11.45 pm, when the Boses had called it a day switching off their lights, a group decided to search their house again.
A dozen youths went in and after looking for a while opened the locked pit. The boy’s legs bobbed up as the cover was removed. There were two other pit covers which did not have locks and looked unopened for long.
The mob ransacked the two rooms of the Boses and dragged the family out on the street after midnight. Even women joined in as the mob that, some say, numbered 2,000 set upon the three.
“I have not seen a more bestial act in my long career,” said Raj Kanojia, IG, law and order. Four persons, one a woman, have been arrested so far.