Bhubaneswar, Sept. 14: A septuagenarian woman was killed and her husband critically injured when goons barged into their Acharya Vihar residence last night and assaulted them.
The couple, who had rented their four-storey house to students, were found lying in their room on the third floor of the building, bleeding profusely. Family members suspect the role of some known persons in the crime, as all the three entrances on the third floor of the building were found open.
The couple had hired a driver recently.
Their domestic help, Bhanu Sethi, 65, was the first person to arrive on the scene of the crime this morning.
“Every morning, I come here to do the chores. But when I came here today, I found the doors of their room open. As I pushed the door to enter, I found them lying on the floor with blood all around,” said Sethi.
Saheed Nagar police took the custody of the body of Jyotsnadebi Panigrahi, 72, and sent it for post-mortem. Her husband, Kunja Behari Panigrahi, 75, was rushed to a nearby private hospital in a critical condition.
The couple had begun living in the building, which was constructed nearly 40 years ago, in 2010 after spending many years with their children who are settled abroad. They began renting out portions of their house to students about 12 years ago. Around 100 students, including those pursuing engineering courses and taking coaching for banking exams, were living in the building. Each of them was paying about Rs 1,000 for a bed.
Kunja Behari, who hails from Sorada of Ganjam district, had retired as a superintending engineer of the telecom department about 17 years ago. The couple had planned to start a pharmaceutical company, which they had already registered as K.J. Pharmaceutical Private Limited. Following his retirement, Kunja and his wife went to live with their son in Canada. They returned to Bhubaneswar two years ago.
Their family members said the couple had decided to leave for Canada again this October.
“They had already got the necessary migration papers to leave for Canada. But around 10.30 this morning, we were informed that my mother has been killed and father is battling for life in a city hospital,” said Jyotirmayee Panigrahi, one of their four daughters who lives in Chandrasekharpur. The couple’s two daughters and three sons live abroad.
“The floor, on which my parents lived, had three entry points that always used to remain closed. My mother never allowed any unknown person to enter the building. But all the entrances on the third floor were open today, creating a suspicion that someone known to them has committed the crime,” said Jyotirmayee.
She claimed that three jewellery boxes were found lying empty while an iPad, laptop, two mobile phones and a DVD player that belonged to her parents were missing.
Police, however, are yet to verify Jyotirmayee’s claims. Deputy commissioner of police Nitinjeet Singh said the police were interrogating the couple’s domestic help Sethi, their driver and some of the tenants living in the building.
“Prima facie evidence suggests that the elderly woman was strangled to death. We are also looking into the angle of the possible involvement of Sethi and the driver,” said Singh.