The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Maid in net with booty

A short cut to affluence ended with imprisonment for domestic help Sumita Pradhan. The city police caught up with her at Ganga Sagar and recovered jewellery worth Rs 2 lakh, apart from an array of expensive items, from the backyard of her house.

The stolen goods were recovered barely 24 hours after Pankaj Bandhopadhyay lodged a complaint with Kalighat police. A team led by officer-in-charge Jayanta Das set out for Sumita’s house the same day and arrested her. According to Das, Bandhopadhyay, a construction company owner, lodged a complaint on November 15. “He said he suspected Sumita, but had no idea where she lived. She took leave on October 22, saying she had to observe her father’s death anniversary at home,” he said.

Sumita’s sudden departure raised no doubts, nor did anyone detect the missing jewellery till November 14, when the family was to attend a party at Science City. “In the evening, as we were getting ready, my wife realised that some of her expensive saris were missing. As we went through the shelves, we noticed that cosmetics, watches and a few other items were missing as well. On a hunch, I asked my wife to check the jewellery in the locker. She found it empty,” Bandhopadhyay said.

“A few items had gone missing earlier and my son, who arrived from Australia a couple of months ago, had told me that he suspected Sumita. I did not believe him, as she was quite well-behaved. I could never imagine she could do such a thing. She used to call me ‘baba’,” Bandhopadhyay recalled.

The police contacted Uttam, Sumita’s uncle, who worked in a house in Ramnagar as a domestic help. “He had brought Sumita to the Bandhopadhyay house. He readily agreed to go with us to Ganga Sagar. On reaching there, we interrogated Sumita for nearly six hours, before she gave in and confessed to her crime,” officer-in-charge Das said.

“We could not find a single stolen item in her house, even after hours of search,” Das added. “Ultimately, Sumita showed us the spot where she had hidden the goods in her backyard. Our officers dug up the yard and found the jewellery and other items wrapped in a sari,” Das recounted, giving a detailed description of the operation.

“It seems Sumita knew where ‘boudi’ (mistress of the house) kept the keys to the almirah. But too much greed did her in. The total amount of goods she stole was estimated at more than Rs. 2.5 lakh,” Das said.

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