March 17: Nadia police today arrested three persons on charges of murdering the general surgeon of Ranaghat Sub-Divisional Hospital, Chandan Sen, almost three weeks after his death outside a colleague’s house.
Days back, the Indian Medical Association had raised Cain, questioning the administration’s motive in trying to “pass off the death in mysterious circumstances as a natural event caused by cardiac arrest”.
The arrests follow the submission of Sen’s post-mortem report yesterday. The report says he died of asphyxiation and not heart attack, as had been claimed by the police earlier.
Those arrested include a general-duty attendant at the ENT department of the Ranaghat hospital, Subharanjan Khara, his wife Arundhati, a doctor working in Kalyani, and Gautam Ganguly, the son of a clerk at the Ranaghat hospital Sunil Ganguly.
Sunil has been absconding since the murder came to light.
“All the arrested have been produced in court,” Nadia superintendent of police Benoy Chakraborty said. “We cannot rule out the chance of some others being arrested soon,” he added.
Though officials said they suspected that the murder was the result of a feud over malpractices at the hospital, including financial irregularities, Opposition parties in Ranaghat and the IMA continued to say that Sen’s murder could be traced back to last month’s loot-and-rape incident in Dhantola.
The victims were examined for rape at the hospital where Sen worked, they said. Investigating officials admitted that though the gynaecological test was done by another doctor, Sen was involved in the “initial examination”.
Sen died in circumstances, which the administration initially tried to ignore, that begged a few questions, his colleagues and the IMA had pointed out. They met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee last week, demanding that a thorough inquiry be conducted into the death and the circumstances leading to it. Sen’s colleagues had noticed “many things abnormal in the body”.
The administration started moving only after the chief minister’s meeting with the IMA leaders, officials admitted today.
On the evening of February 26, Sen had gone to Sunil’s house to attend a party the latter had thrown prior to his retirement. Also invited were the Kharas, the social welfare officer at the Ranaghat hospital, Apurba Sanyal, and Gautam.
Those arrested today initially told Sen’s relatives and friends that the surgeon, after downing some liquor with the other guests and a quick dinner, went to the pond adjacent to the house. When he did not rejoin the group quite some time later, the rest of the party started looking for him.
After minutes of futile search, they found a packet of cigarettes, which led them on to the pond, Sen’s colleagues had said.
There, with the “help of the headlights of a car (belonging to the Kharas)”, they spotted Sen’s body. It was recognised by the “navy-blue shirt collar” in the middle of the pond, they had said.
The discrepancies in their accounts caught the administration’s notice after a few days (and after the IMA team met the chief minister at Writers’ Buildings).
n First, the headlights could not possibly have helped locate Sen’s body inside the pond as it was a good few metres below ground-level (and the level of the lights).
n Second, the sighting of the dark-coloured collar was not possible in the dark, investigators said today.
n Third, Sen’s body had simply no chance of floating in the pond as the water was ankle-deep.
The police have interrogated social welfare officer Sanyal. “We are looking for Sunil and are confident of nabbing him soon,” said the Nadia superintendent of police.
The arrested trio was produced before acting sub-divisional judicial magistrate Yasmin Fatima. The Kharas were remanded in judicial custody till March 31 and Gautam was remanded to police custody for 48 hours.