Supti Seth, the 72-year-old spinster found dead in her family’s rundown Baranagar mansion on Monday, was under pressure to vacate the part of the house where she lived and died, said police.
Sleuths on Wednesday interrogated two men who had apparently bought the portion from the victim’s eldest sister, Pradipta Banerjee, 12 years ago. Supti had been living alone in that portion — she had rented out her part of the house — since her mother’s death in 1988.
“We are verifying the statements of the two suspects, whom we are not naming for the sake of the investigation. Our preliminary probe has revealed that a property row triggered the elderly woman’s death,” said an officer.
The British-era mansion— which stands on a nine-cottah plot off BT Road, around 3.5km from the Shyambazar five-point crossing — was originally divided equally among Supti and her four married sisters.
“Two of the sisters later handed over their shares to the three others — Supti, Pradipta and Sompriti. Pradipta had sold her portion 12 years ago, apparently to the two men whom we questioned yesterday,” said an officer of Baranagar police station.
Police traced the duo while making a list of persons who could benefit from Supti’s death.
“We came to know that the two men had asked Supti several times to vacate the portion Pradipta had sold. But every time Supti refused to move out,” said the officer. “Supti had rented out her portion and was living in the part once owned by her eldest sister.”
A probe revealed that a local promoter had approached Supti 10 years ago to buy her portion of the mansion, which was occupied by tenants. She had allegedly signed an agreement with him and taken an advance of Rs 50,000.
“But the promoter failed to get the portion vacated and started mounting pressure on her to return the money or transfer the property to him,” said another officer.
The police suspect the killer(s) was known to Supti. “We talked to her domestic help Lakshmi and learnt that the victim would open the ground-floor gate only if she could recognise the visitor from a first-floor window. It seems Supti knew the assailant, or else she would not have opened the door,” said the officer.
When Lakshmi came to the house on May 15 morning, she found the ground-floor door locked from outside. She returned thinking her employer was not at home.
The police suspect Supti was murdered after sunset on May 14. “The fan and lights in the first-floor bedroom were on when the body was recovered,” said an officer. “Since the bedroom was not ransacked, it appears Supti was attacked when she was either in the kitchen or in the dining room.”
Supti, who had a habit of reading newspapers, had not collected papers since May 15. All the newspapers were found in a bag near the ground-floor door.