Agartala, July 14: Editor-cum-proprietor of Bengali daily Ganadoot Patrika, Sushil Chowdhury, 73, was pronounced guilty in the triple murder case on the office premises of the newspaper on the afternoon of May 19 last year.
Additional district and sessions judge Kripankar Chakraborty, who presided over the six-month-long trial, held Chowdhury guilty of culpable homicide, suppression of evidence, furnishing of false evidence and conspiracy to hoodwink police.
However, Niyoti Ghosh, wife of Ganadoot Patrika’s driver, Balaram Ghosh, and co-accused in the case who turned approver, was set free by the judge. The quantum of punishment will be announced on July 17.
A large number of people had gathered at the additional district and sessions court since morning to hear the news about the long-expected judgment, which was pronounced at 11.30am.
Public prosecutor Dilip Sarkar expressed satisfaction over the judgment. But senior advocate Pijush Biswas, who represented Chowdhury, refused comment. “We will appeal in the high court and we hope that justice will be done,” said Biswas.
Sub-inspector Manas Pal of West Agartala police station, who had filed a 562-page chargesheet in the case, said on May 19 last year, three employees of Ganadoot Patrika — manager Ranjit Chowdhury, 58, proofreader Sujit Bhattacharjee, 26 and driver Balaram Ghosh, 41 — had been stabbed to death around 3pm when Chowdhury was apparently “taking a nap” in his first floor bedroom.
“After an initial inquiry, we grew suspicious about Chowdhury’s role and on May 31 we arrested Balaram’s wife Niyoti, who spilled the beans in the course of interrogation. Niyoti turned approver and finally agreed to make a statement in court under Section 164 CrPC. We arrested Chowdhury on June 7,” said Pal.
According to sources in the CJM court, Niyoti stated that Chowdhury was involved in several illegal businesses, including deposit-collecting companies, besides running his newspaper.
Manager Ranjit, who was aware of his boss’s illegal dealings, was trying to resign. This worried Chowdhury, as he feared the manager might expose him after quitting, and spurred him to plan Ranjit’s murder.
Chowdhury allegedly lured Balaram to execute his plan by offering him money and property. Niyoti said she was aware of the plot. On May 19, Balaram allegedly sneaked into the manager’s chamber on the first floor with Chowdhury and stabbed him several times, killing him on the spot.
As Balaram was hurrying downstairs, proofreader Sujit came running on hearing the manager’s screams and a scuffle ensued. While Sujit got stabbed several times, leading to his immediate death, Balaram, too, was critically injured and died later in hospital after being stabbed by Chowdhury.