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Natural death turns murder after autopsy

A Bhowanipore resident who returned home from work on Tuesday to find her mother lying still in bed and thought she had died of a natural cause learnt on Wednesday that she had been murdered.

Police said the murdered woman, 67-year-old Dipali Sarkar, was alone on the first floor of her three-storey home on Dwarka Nath Sen Road after her 28-year-old daughter Gauri left for work on Tuesday.

A woman identified as Debjani Das (Majhi) was arrested late on Wednesday in connection with the murder.

Gauri’s statement to the police says Dipali was lying in bed when she returned from office in the evening. “When I called out, she did not respond. I found her lifeless on touching her. I immediately called my relatives and friends,” an officer of Bhowanipore police station quoted Gauri.

Gauri had left for work at 9am. “She was fine when I left. She did not betray any signs of discomfort,” she told the police.

“My mother had high pressure. So I thought that could be the reason for her death,” an officer quoted her as saying.

Relatives assumed the death was natural but they still alerted the police because no one was around when Dipali had died.

“Marks around Dipali’s neck aroused our suspicion. We wanted to get the post-mortem done in order to be sure about the cause of death,” said an officer of Bhowanipore police station. The preliminary report revealed that Dipali was smothered to death.

A police complaint lodged by Gauri on Wednesday morning stated that jewellery “worth lakhs” were missing from the house. The police are yet to verify the worth of the jewellery reported stolen.

“Preliminary investigation suggests murder for gain. We are trying to find out who has gained from the murder. We will question Dipali’s relatives, neighbours and even her daughter,” said an officer.

No one except the mother-daughter duo lived on the first floor opposite Bhowanipore post office. The ground floor has been rented out to a family, while the second floor is vacant. Neighbours could not recall seeing anyone go to the first floor on Tuesday.

One of Gauri’s friends said the 28-year-old is a company secretary and leaves home for work around 9am. The family does not have a full-time domestic help and Dipali used to stay alone at home for most of the day.

When asked about the situation in which she found her mother’s body, Gauri said: “I cannot say much till the final report comes.”

On Wednesday night, a polythene packet was found hanging from the first floor. “It seems Dipali did not come down very often. If anybody wanted to give her anything, she would lower the polythene bag and then haul it up,” said the officer.