Who killed the Pal family of Oxytown in the summer of ’99' With the prime accused in the case being given a clean chit in court after close to eight years, the truth may never be told.
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) sleuths on Friday — the day after schoolteacher Lakshmi Narayan Chakraborty was exonerated — admitted that the Oxytown killers may not be found.
“We will study the judgment carefully for a couple of days and then take a call on whether we should appeal against it,” Niraj Narayan Pande, deputy inspector-general (CID), told Metro. “If we feel there is enough chance of the high court overturning the lower court’s verdict, we shall advise the state government accordingly.”
If not, the Oxytown murder will go down as yet another “unsolved case” in the police files.
The CID had in its chargesheet stated that Chakraborty, tutor of Sohini, had hatched the plot to murder the Pal family with the help of a contract killer, Chandan Das.
On June 14, Bidyut Pal, 55, wife Manjulika, 51, and daughters Sohini, 22, and Triparna, 16, were found dead in their P73 Oxytown house in Behala, with their hands tied and throats slit. Bidyut Pal was a general order supplier, while Manjulika was an officer in the Bhowanipore branch of a nationalised bank.
The chargesheet mentioned that Chakraborty was carrying on an extra-marital affair with Sohini, who was insisting that he divorce his wife and marry her. That, concluded the sleuths, drove Chakraborty to desperation.
The Alipore court on Thursday dismissed the prosecution case against the accused for lack of evidence.
CID officials on Friday admitted that despite taking two-and-a-half years to submit the chargesheet, the evidence presented before the court did not support the charges levelled against the tutor by police.
Some glaring “lapses” that the court highlighted were:
It was said that the key to the Pal house was recovered from Chakraborty, who had apparently hidden it under a pile of stone chips behind the Pal house. When asked why a murderer would risk locking the door behind him and hiding the key on the same premises, police had no answer.
Police said on the day the Pal family was killed, June 9, Chakraborty visited the house and slipped sedatives into the tea that was served. But there were no witnesses and, worse, no fingerprints were collected from the tea cups. “It was a basic thing that police missed out on doing,” said a CID official. “Without matching fingerprints, how can anyone establish that Chakraborty was present in the Pal house that day'”
Around 45 days after the discovery of the bodies, police apparently stumbled upon a blood-smeared shirt under a pile of stones on the premises of Chakraborty’s house. A strip of sedatives was dug out of his bookshelf. The bloodstains on the shirt appeared fresh, raising the question how this was possible in the monsoon months.
Police claimed in court that this was the shirt Chakraborty was wearing on the day of the crime. But there was no effort to match the blood on the shirt with the blood of any of those killed. Also, why had Chakraborty not disposed of the sedatives'
“There was not one piece of evidence that could prove Chakraborty’s guilt,” stated Amitabha Ganguly, senior member of the defence team.