The cellphone, recovered from the pocket of a man found on a deserted early-morning street with his throat slashed, rings out loud.
The police officer, standing outside the hospital ward where the murdered man lies, picks up the phone. But the alien voice prompts the caller to disconnect. The officer dials the number of the last call received. He tells the voice on the other end that the man, from whose pocket the mobile has been recovered, is dead. This time, the connection isn’t snapped, but the silence is deafening.
This was how the family of central Calcutta businessman Shahzada Moghaiz got the news of his gruesome end on Monday morning. The police, till late evening, did not have a clue about why the 43-year-old resident of Prinsep Street had been murdered.
Piecing the facts of the case together, police said Moghaiz was speeding down Dharamtala Street on a scooter around 5.30 am when he was stopped by two youths in front of Lee Memorial School. Moghaiz was headed for Sealdah station to catch a train to the family’s Kalyani glue-making factory.
The owner of a nearby tea-stall later told the police that one of the two youths who stopped Moghaiz whipped out a sharp weapon and slashed his throat, almost severing the head from the torso. The witness to the murder, who was just opening his tea-stall, was stunned and failed to raise an alarm till the assailants fled the spot. He managed to alert a mobile patrol from Muchipara police station, which rushed Moghaiz to Medical College and Hospital, deputy commissioner (central division) Zulfiquar Hasan said.
“There was a lot of blood,” an official of Muchipara police station recounted. “The weapon used appeared to have been very sharp and quite heavy,” he added.
Moghaiz, whose family owns motor-parts shops in central Calcutta, would leave for the Kalyani-based factory early in the morning during Ramazan and return in the evening to break the fast with his family, police said. He would keep in touch with his wife, two daughters and a son on the cellphone. On Monday, that phone was used to convey the news of his murder.
Investigators appear clueless about a possible motive. Though Muchipara officers said it could be the handiwork of local goons on the lookout for early-morning prey, deputy commissioner (detective department) Soumen Mitra refused to jump to conclusions. “More details will emerge only after we manage to speak to the family, who are now in a state of shock,” he said.
Moghaiz’s employees, too, found the attack “incomprehensible”. As Mahadeb Mandal put it: “He was an extremely nice person, who never quarrelled with anyone. There was no labour trouble either in the shops or the factory.”