The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Five in net for girl rape and murder

Three days after finding the body of a 12-year-old girl, who was raped and murdered at an abandoned factory-shed in Taratala, the five culprits have been arrested. They have confessed to the crime.

Investigation moved at a frenetic pace over the past 24 hours as police first established the identity of the murdered girl (Soni Khatoon, daughter of Sheikh Bhola, alias Feku) and then picked up the assailants one after the other, following a series of raids in south-west Calcutta and on the south-western fringes.

The motive behind the crime, as deduced by the investigators, was a feud between the assailants and the girl’s father. Bhola used to work as the gatekeeper of the shed till a few months back and would often tick off the five for entering the premises. All five were known to be drug-addicts, who thrived on scraps of iron and other materials stolen from the abandoned sheds in the belt. They had once hit Bhola for constantly keeping watch over them. The quintet had threatened him of “much worse consequences” but Bhola had stopped worrying about them — or their threats — after being thrown out of the job.

But the five — Shamsuddin Sheikh, alias Bara Muni, his brother Nader Ali Sheikh, alias Chhota Muni, Shiv Kumar Das, alias Srikumar, Habul Sardar and Bhola Bahadur Tamang — stuck to their vengeance pledge.

Soni, who was supposed to go to her brother Mohammad Chand’s residence in Akra, Santoshpur, last Sunday, was waylaid by the five that morning soon after she left home.

According to a police reconstruction of the events, she was forced to tag along for three whole days as they moved from one hideout to another. Then, on Wednesday, Soni was taken to the Taratala shed where she was first forced to drink alcohol and then raped repeatedly. The end came soon, with a hammer and bricks (to hit her on the head) and a dupatta (to strangle her).

The body was recovered on Wednesday but her identity could not be established as Bhola was sure that his daughter had reached his son’s home and had not lodged a missing person’s diary. Finally on Friday, on coming to know from neighbours that a 12-year-old girl had been murdered, Bhola went to the Taratala police station. He was taken to the morgue where he identified his daughter, deputy commissioner (detective department) Soumen Mitra said on Saturday.

The probe received a boost after a pair of slip-ons was found to belong to Shamsuddin. He was the first to be picked up on Sunday. Interrogation led the police to the others.

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