The entrance to the Jhunjhunwalla residence on Creek Row. (Rashbehari Das)
A former help of the Jhunjhunwalla family, whose members were served spiked food by their new cook in their Creek Row house and robbed on Thursday night, was arrested on Sunday for his role in the incident.
Police took Man Bahadur, who hails from Nepal, into custody after he made contradictory statements during a prolonged interrogation that started on Saturday.
Bahadur, who was also a cook at the Jhunjhunwallas’, recently introduced them to Raju, who allegedly spiked their dinner.
“Bahadur left the Jhunjhunwalla house a year and a half ago, but was in touch with the family. He introduced Raju to the family three days before the robbery. Our investigation has revealed that Bahadur had played a key role in the incident,” said an officer of the detective department.
After eating a dinner of puri, curry and mango shake prepared by Raju, 11 members of the family had passed out. Fifteen-year-old Rishika, a member of the family who had skipped dinner and was busy chatting online, came out of her room shortly after midnight and saw the cook and one of his accomplices decamping with valuables as her family members and another help lay unconscious.
Shiva, a third help of the family, has also gone missing.
Rishika called her friend Pankaj Jain, with whom she had been chatting. He informed Muchipara police.
“Bahadur had joined as a cook for a family in Gariahat after leaving the Jhunjhunwalla house. He and Raju are from the same village in Nepal. That aroused our suspicion. There were also discrepancies in Bahadur’s statements that cannot be disclosed for the sake of investigation,” said an officer of the anti-dacoity wing of the detective department.
The Jhunjhunwallas said they had asked Bahadur to find them a cook since he was in touch with them.
The investigators are also probing the role of a help in a Lake Town house, Arjun Chetri, in connection with the incident.
“Arjun comes from the same village as Bahadur and Raju,” said an officer.
The police found a plastic pouch containing a white powder-like substance in a servants’ room on the terrace of the three-storey Jhunjhunwalla house.
“The packet was half full. It appears that Raju used the white substance as a sedative. He probably mixed it with the curry that was served at dinner. We have sent the powder to forensic experts. They will test the substance on Monday,” said Jawed Shamim, the deputy commissioner of the detective department.
The Jhunjhunwallas did not notify the police while employing Raju. “They do not have a photograph of the absconding servant. We have repeatedly requested people to provide us the details of their help. Had they followed our instructions, we would have found it easier to track down the cook,” said an officer of Muchipara police station.
According to Calcutta police, few Calcuttans inform police stations while employing help.
“People can now download the Domestic Help Profile Form from our website (www.kolkatapolice.gov.in) and provide details of their help along with his or her photograph. They will, however, have to visit their police station and hand over the form,” added the officer.