The bridge over the Kopai near which Sabuj Kanti Majhi was stabbed to death. Picture by Snehamoy Chakraborty
Bolpur, Sept. 18: A former Patha Bhavana student was stabbed to death last evening on the banks of the Kopai in Santiniketan, prompting tourists at the weekend retreat to say they were feeling insecure.
Three persons, including a woman, who had accompanied Sabuj Kanti Majhi, a 30-year-old music teacher, for a stroll on the riverbank told police that Majhi was attacked by five-six youths who snatched his camera and wallet.
The police, however, doubt if Majhi was stabbed because he had resisted the snatchers.
“Preliminary investigation suggests that the murder could be the fallout of a love triangle,” Birbhum police chief C. Sudhakar said, adding that Majhi’s links with some women were being probed.
Saikat Kumar Singh, a friend of Majhi who was part of the group on the stroll, told the police that the music teacher was walking ahead of the rest.
“We had gone for a walk around 9 last night. Sabuj was walking ahead of us. I was looking at the river when I heard arguments. I turned around to see Sabuj involved in a scuffle with five-six youths. When we rushed to save him, the assailants ordered us to hand over our belongings to them. We refused and one of them kicked me. Another youth stabbed Sabuj with a knife and fled,” Singh said.
The police said they found the statements of Majhi’s friends “inconsistent”, adding that all three would be interrogated. “We have found discrepancies in the versions of Majhi’s friends. There was a woman in the group. The claim that the assailants had intended to rob them might not be entirely true,” a police officer said.
Majhi’s father Ashok, a retired Visva-Bharati employee, lodged an FIR at Panrui police station today.Tourists and hotel owners in Santiniketan said the murder in an area frequented by people from Calcutta and its neighbourhood had worried them. Many Calcutta residents have houses and flats in Santiniketan.
The murder spot, 3km from the Visva-Bharati compound, is a favourite among tourists, who take a walk along the banks of the Kopai and on a bridge across the river.
Nilmadhab Bhattacharya, a Howrah resident visiting Santiniketan with his wife and two children, said: “We had planned to take a stroll on the river bank till 9 tonight but dropped the idea. We returned to our hotel at 5pm. My family is worried.”
A tourist from Calcutta said on the condition of anonymity: “My boyfriend and I often drive down to Santiniketan. I will think twice before doing so again after such an incident.”
Hotel owners echoed the concerns of the tourists. “Our guests like to take a stroll on the riverbank in the evening. We often suggest that. We want security to be tightened,” said Prabir Banerjee, a hotel owner in Santiniketan.