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At school, top 10

Pradipti Singh was among the top 10 students of her class at Kendriya Vidyalaya Fortwilliam and had been promoted to Class X just a day before being bludgeoned to death along with her mother Pushpa and younger sister Aradhana.

Pushpa last visited the school on March 28 to collect her daughters’ report cards, a bitter-sweet occasion for the girls because seeing the other students with both parents always reminded them about the loss of their father in 2010.

Aradhana, promoted to Class VIII, and her elder sister had joined Kendriya Vidyalaya after their father’s death four years ago. Before coming to Calcutta, they were based in Odisha.

“Pradipti was traumatised by her father’s death and would keep to herself. I didn’t know why she looked so depressed, but when I asked her one day she said her father had died in a train accident,” said Sanskrit teacher Mahesh Mishra, who taught her in classes VII and VIII.

The elder of the siblings was not only a good student but also a talented artist. “Pradipti was among the top 10 students of her class. Besides being good in academics, she was a very decent and quiet girl,” said Amit Kumar Panigrahi, vice-principal of Kendriya Vidyalaya Fortwilliam.

Both girls would participate in co-curricular activities but Pradipti stood out among the crowd. “Her handwriting was beautiful, both in Hindi and English. She loved to draw and would often do charts for her school house,” teacher Mishra recalled.

Several other teachers spoke fondly about the Singh sisters, variously describing them as sincere, rooted and well-behaved. “They were very understanding of their mother’s struggle since their father died. Pradipti would share her feelings with close friends,” a teacher said.

The school authorities came to know that the widow and her two daughters were missing since March 29 after Paresh Nath Singh, Pushpa’s father, came to the campus with a team from Ekbalpore police station to make some enquiries. “Their grandfather couldn’t stop sobbing when he was here,” vice-principal Panigrahi recalled.

The school authorities scanned their records and gave the police a Salkia address that had been mentioned at the time of admission. The address was that of the girls’ paternal grandfather, where Pushpa had stayed with her daughters before shifting to the apartment in Ekbalpore where they were allegedly murdered by their landlord.