|Kero Mech and Dipmoni Saikia. Pictures by UB Photos
Dibrugarh/Jorhat, May 14: A junior doctor was today apprehended in the Sarita Toshniwal murder case, making it the second arrest in this connection.
Dipmoni Saikia, 28, a second-year post-graduate student in the gynaecology department of Assam Medical College Hospital (AMCH) in Dibrugarh, where Sarita was a first-year post-graduate student, was picked up for interrogation last evening. He hails from Hojgaon near Nagaon town.
Sarita was found dead in the doctor’s cabin of the intensive care unit of the department by a nurse around 8am on Friday. Her body was covered with a blanket and lying on the bed inside the cabin.
On the day of the murder, Dibrugarh police had arrested a ward boy of the department, Kero Mech, after he reportedly confessed to the crime. Mech hails from Siringhola village of Dibrugarh district.
Dibrugarh chief judicial magistrate Kanchan Newar today remanded Dipmoni in seven days’ police custody. The case (number 370/14 under Sections 302/34/120 of the IPC) was registered on Friday.
Announcing Dipmoni’s arrest this afternoon, Dibrugarh superintendent of police Rana Bhuyan said judging from Mech’s confession and circumstantial evidence, he was “very much” involved in the murder.
Dipmoni has, however, denied any involvement. He repeatedly stated that he “knows nothing” about the crime, Bhuyan said.
Mech had told the police that the conspiracy to kill Sarita was hatched by Dipmoni about a month ago and he (Dipmoni) had approached Mech to “do the job”. Bhuyan said according to Mech, Dipmoni was a partner in Sarita’s killing.
The SP told The Telegraph this evening that the exact motive behind the murder was yet to be unearthed.
“At this stage we suspect some kind of a one-sided love affair on Dipmoni’s part that may have led to the crime.”
Bhuyan said Mech’s entire confession had been videotaped in front of an additional deputy commissioner of the district. In his confession, Mech, a ward boy whose job was not regularised, said Dipmoni lured him to commit the murder with the assurance of a permanent job at the college.
The SP said Mech had asked Dipmoni why he wanted to kill Sarita but he refused to answer and asked him to do the job if he wanted his post to be regularised. Quoting the ward boy, Bhuyan said Sarita and Dipmoni had “cordial relations” but they “had not spoken to each other during duty for over a month”.
Mech also reportedly confessed that Dipmoni had asked him to kill Sarita on the night of April 24 when she was on night duty but he could not carry out the killing.
How the murder was committed
Bhuyan said on the night of May 8, Dipmoni was on duty with Sarita but he left the ward around 10pm, citing ill health. Before leaving, he reminded Mech, who was on duty, to “finish the job” that very night. Accordingly, Mech woke up at 2am on May 9 but could not accomplish the “job” as he feared that the patients and the nurse on duty were awake.
Quoting Mech, the SP said the ward boy woke the nurse up around 5.30am on May 9 to attend to the patients. Thereafter, she gave injections and medicines to the patients and left by 6am before the nurse for the next shift came in. Mech then went to the matron’s chamber nearby to deposit a register of the ward, as was the practice. On his way, he met two private security guards from whom he got to know the time (6.10am). The guards have corroborated the story before the police.
He also allegedly met Dipmoni near the blood bank, who enquired whether the nurse had left.
After depositing the register, Mech returned to the unit and saw Sarita sleeping on the bed inside the restroom (next to the patients’ room) for nurses and lady doctors.
In the meantime, Dipmoni, wearing gloves, also arrived at the unit from a different route (passing though NRHM office to avoid being caught on CCTV camera) and closed the door of the unit, the police official said.
Quoting Mech, Bhuyan said the ward boy first tried to strangulate Sarita. But she woke up and tried to save herself by biting one of Mech’s fingers. She clawed his face and shouted for help. Hearing her screams, an attendant of a patient from Jorhat who was admitted in the unit tried to enter but found the door closed and left thinking that the voice had come from some other ward and that the doctor and the staff were sleeping. The attendant has corroborated the story before the police.
Mech said fearing that some patient might come inside the restroom hearing Sarita’s screams, both he and Dipmoni took hold of Sarita, pushed her under the bed and together strangulated her with Mech sitting on her chest and Dipmoni on her legs. After that, Mech said, Dipmoni sexually assaulted her and then, using a stethoscope, confirmed that she was dead. Mech and Dipmoni then together put the body on the bed and covered it with a blanket. After that Dipmoni left, taking the route through which he had come.
However, Mech wanted to be sure about her death and went to the septic ward and brought a surgical knife and inserted it in Sarita’s neck. He left the place with Sarita’s mobile phone, which was later recovered from Mech’s in-laws’ house at Bongalgaon under Ghormara outpost, the police said.
The SP said at 9am on the day of murder, before Mech was picked up, Dipmoni had called Mech but the call went unanswered as the ward boy had gone out leaving the phone at home. He said Dipmoni had made only a few phone calls to Mech in the past few months.
Replying to a query, Bhuyan said Dipmoni’s call details showed that he and Sarita used to call each other till a few months back. He said they were good friends till March. In April, Dipmoni had called Sarita only a couple of times.
Speaking to reporters after the police news conference at Dibrugarh sadar thana, where Mech was brought, this afternoon, he told newspersons exactly what the SP had stated. Mech said he fell for the job offer by Dipmoni and killed her. He said Dipmoni had forcibly put phenyl in Sarita’s mouth during strangulation and had told him not to reveal his name before the police, assuring him of all legal aid if he (Mech) was caught.
Mech also told reporters that he felt abandoned as no member of his family had come to meet him. He said he has realised that if he has to face the gallows for committing a heinous crime then Dipmoni, too, should be punished as he (Dipmoni) had instigated him and was a partner in the crime.
Innocent, says family
Dipmoni is the son of late Narayan Saikia. His mother and brother rushed to Dibrugarh soon after they came to know of his arrest last evening.
“On the day of the murder, Dipmoni was not on duty. He was on leave because he was unwell,” Dipmoni’s mother Anumai Saikia said.
Dipmoni’s neighbour, Junti Saikia, today said, “Dipmoni is the victim of an unfortunate incident. Such a boy cannot plan murder. More investigations might bring the facts to light.”
When Dipmoni was taken for a medical check-up, agitated residents of Dibrugarh entered the premises of Sadar police station and demanded that both the accused be hanged.
Junior doctors and students at AMCH and GMCH called off their strike today after the state government gave them a written assurance that most of their demands would be fulfilled.
Additional reporting by Sarat Sarma