He was killed in his sleep, his throat slit by four family members, who then buried the body in the kitchen of their Beadon Street home. Nine-and-a-half years later, the curtains have dramatically come down on this gruesome murder with three of the accused being sentenced to death, and the fourth to life imprisonment.
The city civil and sessions court on Friday ordered that victim Biswanath Datta’s brother Alok Datta, and brothers-in-law Mrinal Datta and Babu Ray, be hanged until death. Another co-conspirator in the killing, Alok’s wife Mamata, was sentenced to life behind bars. Such a sentence was quite unprecedented, officials said.
The shock murder in a middle-class north Calcutta home had sent ripples through the city on a 1994 January morning. A sleeping Biswanath had his throat slit by four of his nearest relatives and the body was then buried in the kitchen.
The murder plot could be traced back to a property dispute. Alok and Biswanath had two brothers, Amar and Samar, living outside the city in 1993. Alok first got in touch with a promoter, Nandalal Singh, and then proposed to Biswanath that they sell off their three-storeyed building, at 2C, Beadon Street, without informing Amar and Samar about the deal. Biswanath, however, refused to play along.
Alok then approached two of their brothers-in-law, Babu Ray and Mrinal Datta, and urged Babu to pose as Biswanath to push the property deal through. An agreement was drawn up by a lawyer and Singh paid Alok Rs 60,000 as advance for possession of two rooms in the building immediately after the papers were signed.
But the conspirators continued to fear Biswanath as a stumbling block to their diabolical design. So, the trio, along with Mamata, plotted his murder.
On January 22, 1994, Alok, Mrinal and Babu killed Biswanath while he was sleeping. They then shoved the body under a concrete shelf in the kitchen, sealed it and blocked it with the oven.
The killers then inserted an advertisement in the papers to sell the property. This was picked up by Amar and Samar. Alok told them Biswanath was in Barasat and would be back on March 6. When there was no sign of Biswanath. Amar and Samar lodged a complaint with the Burtolla police.
Alok broke down in front of the cops and confessed to the crime. He and Mamata were arrested the same day, while Babu and Mrinal were picked up within a week. A few days later, the concrete block in the kitchen was dug up and the remains of the victim’s body were recovered.
The trial started in 1994, with 48 witnesses — and a skeleton (for the first time in a city court) — being produced. City civil and sessions court third judge Tapas Ray convicted the four accused on Wednesday and read out their sentences on Friday.