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Police look for body accomplices

At least two men helped Mohammad Sikandar and his three accomplices carry the bodies of Pushpa Singh and her two daughters from their Ekbalpore flat to the shop where they were buried, police suspect.

“We are looking for two persons, probably masons, who had levelled the floor of the shop after the bodies were buried. We will question them to know the extent of their complicity,” said joint commissioner (crime) Pallab Kanti Ghosh.

The three were murdered on March 29 and the bodies were exhumed from under the floor of Sikandar’s shop off Diamond Harbour Road on Sunday.

A team of forensic experts visited Pushpa’s two-room flat in Yasin Manzil on Wednesday. Sources in the forensic department said collection of evidence had become “tougher” as Pushpa’s relatives had been staying in the house since March 31. “In order to get maximum clues, the police should seal a crime scene till the probe is over,” said an official.

Calcutta police attributed the delay in seeking forensic help to the fact that the experts could not be contacted earlier because of back-to-back holidays on Monday (Ambedkar’s birth anniversary) and Tuesday (Poila Baisakh).

Sources said the forensic team had collected enough evidence from the apartment to conclude that there was “stiff resistance” from the Singhs before they were killed.

“Bloodstains on bedroom walls and marks on a cardboard box and the curtains suggest that the assassins were in a hurry,” said an official.

Pushpa was possibly murdered after the assassins pinned her down to the bed, forensic experts said after finding a portion of the wooden cot broken. “We have videographed the entire apartment and have collected samples from different parts,” said a member of the forensic team.

The team found a mattress on the floor of the drawing room. Books of Pushpa’s daughters — Pradipti and Aradhana — were strewn on the mattress. The bedroom looked ransacked.

There are no doors between the bedroom and the attached balcony. “Any heated exchange in the room is bound to be heard by neighbours. But no one claims to have heard anything strange from the room on March 29,” said an officer.

The police have claimed they are yet to come across anyone who had seen the assassins dispose of the bodies.

“The bodies were carried from the flat to the shop in two large trunks. The area is always congested, even at night. How come no one noticed Sikandar and his gang carry two large trunks from Yasin Manzil to the shop? I have requested the police commissioner to look into this,” said Pushpa’s father Paresh Nath Singh.

What the sleuths claim to have ascertained is the fact that Pushpa and her daughters were killed sometime in the afternoon of March 29 and their bodies buried early the next morning.

Pushpa’s father produced a text message received from her daughter’s cell phone on March 31 that has left the police foxed. The message reads: Sorry very sorry. Hum apka phone nahi utha rahe hain…. 7am phone karenge… kahenge kaha rahe hain (I am sorry that I am not receiving your call. I will call at 7am and tell you where I am staying).

“The message was sent from Pushpa’s cell phone at 12.02am on March 31. Pushpa had been dead by then and the phone was being used to mislead the family. We are yet to recover the phone,” said an investigating officer.

Negligence probe

Sources said senior police officers have started a probe following a complaint of negligence against the officer-in-charge of Ekbalpore police station that Pushpa’s father handed to the deputy commissioner (port) on Tuesday.

Allegations of negligence have been linked to Sikandar’s apparent proximity to local Trinamul Congress leader Biswajit Lala.

Lala, who had switched to Trinamul from the Congress before the 2011 Assembly polls, was spotted visiting Ekbalpore police station after Sikandar was questioned by the cops on April 5. “He came to talk on behalf of Sikandar, to vouch for his innocence,” said an officer of the police station.

Lala allegedly gives refuge to petty criminals in the port areas. Sources in the port division said he had access to most police stations in the port area.

“Sikandar had been hanging out with Lala since his return from Denmark,” said a friend of Lala. Many saw Sikandar and Lala together on March 29.

When Metro tried contacting Lala, both his phones were switched off.