A 30-year-old homemaker reported missing after leaving her Bhowanipore home on Sunday morning has been found murdered, the needle of suspicion pointed at an acquaintance who had cheated her of Rs 6 lakh by promising to return double the amount.
Pallavi Patel had told a relative before leaving the Chakraberia Road (South) house that she would visit the Kalighat temple and then meet the acquaintance, Samir Shah, to claim the money.
The 30-year-old suspect, whose house is near the Patels’ snacks shop on Roy Street in Bhowanipore, has been arrested.
“The victim was claiming her money and that prompted Samir to kill her,” said South 24-Parganas police superintendent Praveen Tripathi. “He has confessed to the crime. He had hired another person who helped him kill Pallavi. We are looking for that person. Samir’s car (a white Hyundai Getz) in which Pallavi was strangled has been seized.”
The body, dumped along Basanti Highway in the Calcutta Leather Complex police station area, was found on Monday. Pallavi’s businessman husband Risith identified it on Thursday.
The woman left behind a two-and-a-half-year-old son, Ansh, whose only query to whoever he comes across is: “Mummy kab ayegi (when will my mother return)?”
On Friday evening, he was running around the first-floor apartment, “mummy” on his lips. “Phone karo na,” was his impatient plea to his grandmother.
“How will we tell him that his mother is no more?” cried Pallavi’s mother, who has come down to Calcutta with her husband from Rajkot after hearing that his daughter was missing.
Pallavi’s aunt said Samir had won her niece’s trust by giving her Rs 20,000 when Ansh fell ill. “Then he convinced her to hand over the passbook of a fixed deposit account with a post office, saying he would collect the monthly interest for her,” the aunt said.
Before Pallavi or anyone in the family could suspect foul play, Samir allegedly made Pallavi liquidate a fixed deposit of Rs 6 lakh she had with the Writers Buildings post office and convinced her to give him the money against a high rate of interest.
“Samir paid Rs 14,000 a month for two months as interest. But after that he stopped paying. When Pallavi demanded the interest or the entire sum, Samir threatened her that she didn’t have any proof of the money she had paid him,” said another relative.
On September 30, Pallavi told her aunt that after offering puja at Kalighat she was going to meet Samir and “settle the matter.”
“She told me over phone that she was going to meet Samir on that day. So when she went missing, our prime suspect was Samir,” said Pallavi’s aunt who has flown down from Jamnagar on Friday.
Rishit has claimed before the police that Samir had also taken gold ornaments weighing around 143 grams from the family and deposited them against a high rate of interest, police sources said.
Police sources said that it is suspected that Samir might have cheated many others by posing as a policeman. “He used to flaunt a cap with the logo of Calcutta police on it and a fake walkie-talkie on the dashboard of his car,” said a senior police officer.