To the cops, it seemed like Stoneman had struck again. A murder in the Maidan area early on Monday brought back memories of the elusive murderer of the late 1980s. The victim: a man in his mid-thirties, lay with his head smashed in, the rest of his body apparently unscathed. A huge concrete slab lay a few feet away from the body, smeared in blood.
Stoneman’s victims were usually pavement-dwellers, all of whom had their heads smashed either with a stone or a concrete slab while they were asleep on streets of the city. His non-arrest was a major embarrassment for the sleuths of the detective department.
Mounted police personnel on a routine exercise noticed Monday’s victim in front of Eden Gardens’ southern gate. “The man was in a lungi and shirt, sprawled on the grass. The policemen thought it was someone asleep, but a closer inspection revealed that the man was dead,” said Asis Sengupta, officer-in-charge (OC) of Maidan police station.
Officials from the thana reached the spot to examine the body. “We found a name tattooed on his right forearm — Subol Tanti. We think that’s his identity,” said Sengupta.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the victim was drunk. “From the position of the body, it seems Tanti was attacked in his sleep,” added Sengupta. “A pair of sandals was tucked under his head.”
The concrete slab used to kill Tanti lay a few feet away. “There were bloodstains on it. It was a big slab and the killer must have been well-built to be able to lift it,” said Sengupta. “The impact had smashed the left part of the victim’s skull and even dented the soil under his head.”
Investigating officials found a semi-clotted bloodstain, which led them to believe that the murder took place a few hours ago. Doctors who examined the body later pegged the time at between 3 am and 4 am.
OC Sengupta agreed that the Tanti murder matched Stoneman’s modus operandi. “The killer evidently tried to emulate Stoneman’s example. We do not have the victim’s address yet, but some leads have cropped up that can’t be disclosed for the sake of investigation,” he pointed out.
The Maidan off Eden Gardens and the Mohun Bagan and East Bengal clubs is used by some people to sleep at night. “We conduct routine raids at night and if we find anyone sleeping on the grass, we drive him out. But it is not possible to keep a watch on everybody,” he added.