| Manti. Telegraph picture
Krishnagar (Nadia), Aug. 21: Twelve-year-old Manti Malakar suffocated to death today, playing Dhananjoy Chatterjee.
The Class VII student was alone with her five-year-old brother Bittu at their Ranaghat home in Nadia, about 55 km from Calcutta. Their parents, Gobindo and Manju, had left for work an hour ago.
Around 11 am, Manti, who had last night watched a television documentary about convicts on death row that included snippets about Dhananjoy’s hanging on August 14, decided to re-enact the scene.
Manti persuaded Bittu to play hangman Nata Mullick while she took the lead role. A piece of cloth was used to make the hood and her mother’s silk sari was turned into the noose, which was tied to a long rope attached to the bedpost.
After a mock trial, where Bittu proclaimed his sister guilty, the hood was placed on Manti’s head and the noose tied around her neck. She herself tied the noose and was about to ask her brother to pull the rope to enact the last few seconds of the drama. But the noose had tightened so much that she was gasping for breath. Bittu rushed out and called for help.
Neighbours Sabita Das and Anjan Roy loosened the noose but the girl was limp. “We rushed her to the hospital, but doctors confirmed that she was dead. We did not know what to say to her parents,” said Roy.
Gobindo, a tailor, and Manju had gone out to collect orders and returned around noon, two hours after they had left, asking their daughter to look after her little brother.
“It is my fault that she is dead now. I shouldn’t have left her at home alone, especially when she has been talking about Dhananjoy’s hanging all the time,” Manju cried.
Sabita also recalled how, over the last few days, the student of the nearby Nasrapara Girls High School had been talking about the hanging over and over again.
Two days ago, another 12-year-old, Sheikh Aslam Khan, had a close shave while enacting Dhananjoy’s hanging. Realising he was choking, his friends rushed him to a local health centre. Aslam escaped with bruises to his neck.