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Quake survivor killed, by guardian saviour

New Delhi, March 4: What the killer quake couldn’t do 13 years ago, her dad did.

Yet, that’s not the irony. The irony lies in the fact that Disha died at the hands of the same man who had rescued her from quake-devastated Bhuj.

Disha was barely two months old when Ananya Chakraborty, an officer with India’s external intelligence agency RAW, adopted her and brought her to his in-laws’ house in Calcutta.

That was shortly after the January 2001 temblor that ravaged large swathes of Gujarat. On Sunday, a little over 13 years later, Chakraborty, 52, killed himself at his Defence Colony residence after wiping out his whole family — wife, son and daughter.

“It’s an irony of fate that Disha was killed by the man who had rescued her from the calamity,” said an officer at Defence Colony police station.

Investigators say a longstanding “marital discord” may have led to the triple murder and suicide. Four days earlier, Chakraborty’s wife Jayashree, a schoolteacher, had lodged a torture complaint with Defence Colony police against her husband, though the 45-year-old, who was originally from Calcutta, had agreed to withdraw it after a team visited the house and spoke to her husband.

What has, however, vexed investigators is the brutality of the crime: the RAW officer had used a hammer to bludgeon his wife, son Arnab, 17, and Disha to death, before hanging himself. A bloodstained hammer and a knife lay beside their bodies when a police team broke open the door of Chakraborty’s south Delhi official quarters.

The autopsy report says Jayashree and the two children were hit on their heads and faces by two objects, one sharp-edged and the other blunt, resulting in their deaths.

Police sources said everybody they spoke to, including Chakraborty’s neighbours and family friends, had expressed “shock and disbelief” that a “mild-mannered and soft-spoken” man could resort to such “barbaric killings”.

“He was a very pleasant person and was soft-spoken,” recalled S.P Singh, Chakraborty’s neighbour and a junior RAW officer.

But a hint of a motive may have emerged after a police team revisited the three-bedroom flat and collected several documents and a personal diary of the RAW officer.

“We got a prescription which showed that Chakraborty was undergoing psychiatric treatment in a hospital in Calcutta. But he never disclosed it to his higher-ups,” said an investigator working on the case.

While psychiatric treatment is still considered a taboo topic, in the perilous world of intelligence it would have been considered a sign of weakness in a field officer who had once been posted in volatile Afghanistan.

A police officer said Chakraborty was a field officer in the technical department that deals with surveillance.

“During his over 20-year service, he was also posted in Afghanistan. His last posting was in Calcutta four years ago. After that he was transferred to Delhi.”

The killings have also brought into focus the secretive world of intelligence officers.

“They are forbidden to talk about official matters even with their spouses. The sword of secrecy hangs over everyone’s head,” said a retired RAW officer.

“At times, officials working with the agency tend to become depressed,” the officer said, adding that it was the first time such an incident had happened involving an agency officer.

A police officer said Chakraborty “hardly interacted” with his immediate family. “He had even stopped Jayashree from visiting her parents in Calcutta for the past couple of years. The couple used to have regular fights over some issue or the other.”

It’s premature to say if the regular fights led to what happened on Friday night, but when the officer took up the hammer, in what police said was a “fit of rage”, even Disha was not spared.

What the killer earth couldn’t complete, her father did.