Calcutta, Jan. 20: The Chevrolet Optra LS had been parked for almost 40 hours near the Lake Town traffic police booth on VIP Road before someone thought of peering through the tinted glass around Thursday midnight.
The police cut through the car’s rubber lining, removed the window glass and opened the door from the inside to find Ankit Desai reclining on the back seat, his throat slit.
Two rigid fingers of his half-decomposed body were wrapped around a blood-spattered woman’s handkerchief. A blood-stained knife and two cellphone cases lay by the 25-year-old second-year commerce student’s side.
It was around 3.50 pm on Tuesday when Ankit, the only son of his widowed mother, had left their seventh-floor flat at Vaishali Apartments, on Puddapukur Road off Lansdowne, at the wheel of a neighbour’s car.
Policemen had noticed the Optra, parked in the lane leading to Ultadanga, on Wednesday morning but decided the driver must have walked across to Salt Lake by using the footbridge.
“The evidence points to a revenge angle,” said Vageesh Mishra, inspector-general of police. “Probably some friends had hired contract killers, but the murderers must have been amateurs.”
Late tonight, the police arrested Hardik Bipani, whom Ankit had apparently met in Pune. Armed with clues provided by Ankit’s two mobile phones, they have detained three of his friends for questioning. Four other friends who had called Ankit, and a Patna-based girl whom the murdered youth had phoned, are under watch.
“The handkerchief suggested the woman angle to us,” said Praveen Kumar, North 24-Parganas police chief.
Ankit, an external student with Bhowanipur Educational Society, had told mother Charushila he was going out to meet some friends.
“He wasn’t driving his own Alto,” recalled P.S. Mustafi, the building’s caretaker. Apparently, before leaving on a trip a few days ago, neighbour Sudhir Gohil had left his car keys with the Desais.
Ankit’s mother called him late on Tuesday evening only to be told the number wasn’t reachable. His father Pramod Desai, who ran a flourishing chemicals trading business, died two years ago.