A 75-year-old woman was found dead near her home in Howrah’s Banshtala early on Tuesday, the family members suspecting she had been killed by snatchers.
The body of Harikala Devi was found in an open drain around 5.30am. A pair of gold earrings, one gold nose ring and a silver chain she had been wearing when she left home were missing.
Harikala, who lived with her son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren in Banshtala, used to leave home around 2.30am daily.
She would walk to the nearby temples along the bank of the Hooghly and clean them before sunrise. The temples are about a kilometre from the woman’s hutment on Gangadhar Mukherjee Road.
“She used to return home around 4.30am,” said Til Bahadur Thapa, Harikala’s son, who works as an electric mechanic.
Before leaving, the septuagenarian would lock the main door of the house from outside as she did not want to disturb the other family members.
On Tuesday morning, neighbours found Harikala lying unconscious in the drain, her face and head covered with blood. There were blood stains on the walls of the drain, too.
The neighbours alerted her family members who were sleeping. The lock had to be broken to let the occupants come out.
Til Bahadur lodged an FIR with Howrah police station, saying his mother might have been killed while trying to resist snatchers.
Rakesh Thapa, a relative of the victim, said the killers might have been known to her. “She may have been killed for recognising the snatchers,” said Thapa.
“Harikala Devi was killed midway between the temples and the house. We are not sure whether she was killed on her way to the temples or back home,” said a police officer. “She was hit on the right side of her head with a blunt weapon.”
“We have started a murder case and are awaiting the post- mortem report,” said Ajey Ranade, the commissioner of Howrah City Police.
Bumba Das alias Bullet was arrested in Baguiati on Tuesday for allegedly trying to rob the house of Dhiraj Sarkar, an aide of the state development and planning minister, Rachpal Singh.
“A revolver and cartridges were found on Das,” said a police officer.