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Couple killed amid festivity

Patna, Nov. 18: A young couple were shot dead at their Bhikhachak home this afternoon while the city was celebrating Chhath.

Senior police officers, busy ensuring Chhath security, were flummoxed after the double murder because crimes are rare in the week after Diwali for sheer pious sentiment.

According to the police, a neighbour of the couple — Shanker Safi (28) and his wife Ruby Devi (26) — said he had gone to fetch water from the victims’ rented accommodation around 2.30pm. The man, Chhotu, found the door of the ground-floor room open and blood coming out from inside. He immediately informed Shanker’s relative Arun Rajak, who lives with his family in the same locality.

Arun told The Telegraph that Shanker, originally from Madhubani district, worked with a private water purifier company.

Shanker got married three years ago and the couple did not have any child. “As far as I know, they had no enmity with anyone,” he said, adding that he informed the Gardanibagh police station and Shanker’s relatives.

Neighbours told the police that the couple had been staying at the three-storeyed house of their relative, Devendra Safi, for long. At present, Devendra is observing Chhath in their native village in Madhubani district.

Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Amrit Raj, who visited the spot in the evening, said the reason behind the murder was yet to be ascertained. “We have recovered three cellphones from the room. Forensic experts have gathered evidence,” he said.

The police found valuables scattered on the floor but they think robbery could hardly be a motive to the crime. The SSP said the police were investigating the incident from all possible angles. “We have kept our options open and waiting for the forensic report,” he said.

Another perplexing point for the police was that the neighbours did not hear the sound of gunshots.

“It appears that Shanker was attacked as soon as he opened the main entrance door after someone knocked on it. There was no evidence of any resistance by the couple,” an investigating officer said.

The crime during Chhath has sent shockwaves among residents of the locality. “It is a general perception that criminals hardly operate between Diwali and Chhath. But today’s incident defies our belief,” said Raju, a local resident.

Senior police officers also supported the claim. “The six-day period between Diwali and Chhath is considered religious across the state. Even criminals tend to avoid committing crimes,” said a police officer in the state capital.