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Tragedy hits ‘joint family’

A Facebook fan page on Bidhan Nivas describes it as “one huge joint family” spread across 118 apartments.

On Wednesday, this joint family living in a 99-bigha Ultadanga residential complex since 1981 was in shock over the death of a loved matriarch, 88-year-old Shanta Bhattacharya, at the hands of armed robbers who looted her third-floor flat in daylight.

“I can’t believe something like this has happened in our complex. We had thought ours was among the safest places to live in with the Ultadanga police housing estate and the traffic guard located on the opposite side. From now on, I will be worried about my family at home whenever I am at work,” said Arindam Nandy, a neighbour of the Bhattacharyas.

Several residents blamed Bidhan Nivas’s internal security agency for the incident. “The guards failed to perform their duty. They were supposed to keep track of all people entering and leaving the complex and also maintain a logbook. But they were caught napping on Wednesday,” said Kuheli Das, another resident of the block.

The complex, built near the Hudco crossing in Ultadanga, is divided into north and south blocks. All the buildings have four storeys and the roofs in each block are interconnected. “Generally, the doors of the roofs are closed but as our buildings are being painted, the doors were kept open,” said Pushpendu Mukherjee.

“We suspect the culprits, who could be among the masons and painters working in the complex, came downstairs through another flat after crossing the roofs of NB 1, where the robbery and murder occurred,” he added.

Six guards from a security agency named Advance were on duty at the complex at the time of Wednesday’s incident.

Police commissioner R.K. Pachnanda has asked the Bidhan Nivas residents’ association to scale up security and advised all other residential complexes to install closed-circuit television cameras. “There should also be door chains in individual homes,” he said.

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