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Life terms for lethal cobra plot
(Right) Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane where he plays an FBI agent who takes on a flight full of poisonous snakes, deliberately released to kill a witness being flown from Honolulu to Los Angeles to testify against a mafia boss

Krishnagar, Dec. 20: A man who had killed his 20-year-old wife by slipping a cobra into her bed was sentenced to life today.

The snake charmer who had sold the cobra was also awarded a life term.

“It was a cold-blooded murder. The principal accused had adopted a cruel method to kill his wife and the snake charmer was an accomplice in the heinous crime,” a fast-track court in Nadia’s Krishnagar said.

Hawa Bibi was found dead in her house in Nakashipara, about 130km from Calcutta, on November 10, 2003. Saiyad Mallik, a weaver, did not have any problem convincing his neighbours that a snake had slithered into his wife’s bed while she was sleeping the night before and killed her. But Hawa’s father Khudabaksh Sheikh, who lives in the same village, smelt a rat.

He lodged a complaint at the Nakashipara police station the next day alleging foul play in his daughter’s death. But the police, certain that it was a common case of snakebite, did not bother to start an investigation.

Saiyad, the husband (left), and Golap, the snake charmer. Telegraph picture

Some people then advised Khudabaksh to write to the chief minister and the state human rights commission. But he did not get a reply. “Finally, he approached the chief judicial magistrate of Nadia, who in December 2005 ordered Nakashipara police to conduct an inquiry,” public prosecutor Bikash Mukherjee told the court.

The police found out that Saiyad had married Hawa in March 2003 without telling her that she would be his second wife, Mukherjee said. His first wife, Chaleban Bibi, lived in Bethuadahari, about 5km from Nakashipara.

Chaleban, too, did not know about Hawa.

“After a few months, Saiyad felt he should go back to his first wife in Bethuadahari. But he knew she would not accept his second marriage. So he plotted the murder,” the prosecutor said.

Golap Sheikh, who had been desperately trying to sell his cobra, then suggested to Saiyad that he use the snake to kill his second wife. “Saiyad bought the snake for Rs 500,” Mukherjee said.

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