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‘Decent man’, devious plot

The arrest of Debasish Dey in connection with the murder of rights activist Chaitali Santra came as a surprise to the 36-year-old engineer’s neighbours on Baksara Road in Howrah, where he lived with his mother and sister in a two-storeyed house.

Chaitali lived just five houses away.

“He was a decent man, reasonably good in academics. I still can’t believe how someone like Debasish can come up with such a devious plot to kill a neighbour,” said Chhoton Halder, a neighbour of the Deys and the Santras.

When Metro visited the neighbourhood on Thursday afternoon — near the botanical garden — residents stood around in huddles discussing the ghastly plot hatched by Debasish, a sense of shock and belief etched on the faces.

Debasish’s technical background (he had done a diploma course in mechanical engineering from the Institute of Technology in Murshidabad) had helped him set up the explosive device, a resident was heard telling another.

The cops have learnt that Debasish had drawn a circuit diagram of the improvised explosive device and told an accomplice over the phone how to set it up and deliver it to Chaitali’s home.

All the residents Metro spoke to had a high opinion of the engineer. “He was a good teacher and gave tuition to my brother. My brother’s grades in science subjects and maths had improved because of him,” said Saikat Hajra, a resident of Lalkuthi in Baksara, where the Deys lived in a rented accommodation before shifting to the two-storeyed house on Baksara Road.

Psychiatrists said an obsession to take revenge could have played a role in the metamorphosis of the character.

“Vengeance is a common phenomenon, but the brain has a control mechanism that sends alarm signals about possible consequences…. It seems in case of Debasish he was obsessed with the idea of harming Chaitali, whom he had held responsible for the problems in his life,” said city-based psychiatrist Ranadip Ghosh Roy.

According to him, only a proper diagnosis could reveal why the control mechanisms failed in Debasish.

Some of the psychiatrists with whom Metro spoke to said that the obsession to take revenge could have played a role in the metamorphosis of the character.

“Vengeance is a common phenomenon, but the brain has a control mechanism that sends alarm signals about possible consequences… It seems in case of Debasish he was obsessed to harm Chaitali, whom he had held responsible for the problems in his life,” said city-based psychiatrist Ranadip Ghosh Roy.

According to him, only a proper diagnosis could reveal why the control mechanisms failed in case of Debasish, who had a decent academic background.

Sources in police and the family revealed that he studied at Swami Srimat Projanananda Saraswati Vidyalaya in Howrah’s Shalimar till Higher Secondary and secured over 60 per cent marks, following which he completed his diploma engineering.

“He started his career as a contractual engineer with Bridge and Roof and was posted at Haldia. Then he took up a job in Punjab and shifted there along with Madhurima after his marriage in 2008. We learnt about differences between them only after they came to Howrah in January 2011 for holiday,” said Sraboni, sister of Debasish.

According to her, Madhurima went straight to her parent’s place in Shyambazar, while Debasish came to the family home.

“A month later she sent a lawyer’s letter seeking mutual divorce. My brother went off to Punjab hoping things will settle down. But things only got complicated as Madhurima raided our house in March along with Chaitali and few others and demanded immediate divorce,” recounted Sraboni while adding that she and her mother left the family home a few days later.

Debasish soon returned to Howrah after quitting his job and met Chaitali to request her not to intervene in the family’s affairs, said a family source, while adding that the discussion – sometime in April, 2011 – turned ugly and both sides threatened each other of dire consequences.

While Debasish took up another job in Paradweep and left in May, Madhurima lodged a complaint with Chatterjeehat police station under Section 498A of IPC in September.

Two days after the complaint, the members of the Dey family surrendered before the court, following which Debasish was sent to jail custody while Sraboni and her mother got bail.

“Chaitali ruined our family and my brother was upset with her. But that doesn’t mean that he would plot her killing. My brother is framed,” she summed up.