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Property grab stink in mansion murder

- Family grilled, promoters’ role probed

Supti Seth, the 72-year-old spinster found dead in her family’s rundown Baranagar mansion, was murdered to usurp the property where she had been living alone for 26 years, a police officer said on Tuesday.

He said investigators were exploring various angles but the property theory looked strong since no robbery or theft took place in the 19th-century house where Supti’s decomposed body was found on Monday.

“The family members confirmed that nothing significant or valuable was missing from the house. The woman’s bangles were found in a cupboard. The murder motive looks like the assailants wanted to rid the house of its lone occupant,” said a senior officer of Baranagar police station.

The police on Tuesday questioned members of Supti’s family to ascertain who could have gained from her death. They were also drawing up a list of people likely to benefit from the murder.

Five members of the Seth family were grilled to find out their stakes in the property.

The police said land sharks have been allegedly eyeing the nine-cottah estate, around 3.5km from the Shyambazar five-point crossing and valued at Rs 4.5 crore just for the land.

The names of two promoters have cropped up during investigation. They had approached Supti several times, an officer said.

The property was divided equally among Supti and two of her four married sisters but eldest sibling Pradipta had sold her portion to promoter Poltu Deb around 12 years ago.

Supti and younger sister Sampriti’s portions were rented out to a chemical company and another family, respectively.

But Supti was living at Pradipta’s property for many years because she had been unable to evict the tenant from her part of the mansion.

She had refused to move out even after Pradipta sold her share of the estate.

“Deb had visited Supti several times to persuade her to vacate the plot, the last time a month ago. He had apparently threatened her, too,” said an officer.

The police said another promoter, Shibu, had approached Supti 10 years ago with an offer to buy her portion of the mansion occupied by tenants.

Seth had allegedly signed an agreement with him and had taken an advance of Rs 50,000. “But Shibu was unable to vacate the premises and was mounting pressure on her to return the money or write off the property to him,” said the officer.

The agreement has yet to be recovered, though.

“We have learnt that a young relative often visited her with offers from promoters but she used to refuse vehemently,” the officer said.

“My sister did not have money and lived an austere life. All she had was a portion of this prime property. We had asked her many times to leave the place and stay with us but never budged because of the fear that somebody would usurp the property once she moved out,” said Sukriti Sarkar, one of Supti’s four sisters.

A team of forensic and fingerprint experts collected samples from the mansion on Tuesday.