Zunaid, not yet 10, was abducted and murdered by his boy cousin. His body was then stuffed into a jute bag, carried to a launch on the Hooghly and finally dumped mid-river.
The horror story that began on Monday night in an apartment on Rabindra Sarani, near Nakhoda Masjid, ended on Wednesday afternoon when Mohammad Noureen, 23, broke down and confessed to the kidnap and killing. The body bag is yet to be retrieved.
Noureen provided a blow-by-blow account of how he had abducted young Zunaid, a Class IV student of a local school, strangled him to death, then hid the body for 36 hours, and finally disposed of it.
While the abductor told police his aim had been to extract a ransom from Zunaid’s father Gulam Rabbani, neighbours blamed his actions on business rivalry and a recent altercation. Rabbani is a wholesaler of shoes and sandals on Rabindra Sarani, while Noureen owns a shoe shop next to his outlet.
“Noureen said he had hatched a plan to demand a ransom of Rs 20 lakh from Rabbani. The ransom was not even demanded, but the murder was deliberate, as Zunaid would have surely named his cousin Noureen when released,” said Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner of police (detective department).
Police said Rabbani had brought Zunaid, referred to by family and friends as Arzoo, to Calcutta a year ago for his schooling. “On Monday, he returned home as usual around 3 pm and started watching television with his friend Shahbaz Hussain. He had visited his father at his shop adjoining their home before that,” said an officer of Bowbazar police station.
Shahbaz told police that Zunaid left the room around 4 pm when someone called out to him from the door. He did not return.
Rabbani first suspected foul play when he saw the door to the house locked from outside, as Zunaid never used to lock the door when wandering in the neighbourhood. A missing complaint was lodged with Bowbazar police station later on Monday.
Noureen told police that he had called Zunaid from home around 4 pm, taken him to his room in an adjoining building and strangled him. He and friend Faiyaz put his cousin’s body in a gunny bag, also stuffed with chappals and shoes for sale. The hue and cry over the child’s disappearance the next day forced Noureen to lie low. Early on Wednesday, he called a porter. Accompanied by Faiyaz, he went to Armenian Ghat, boarded a launch and dropped the body bag in the middle of the river.
The needle of suspicion swung towards Noureen when neighbours recounted his recent scrap with Rabbani. Noureen and Faiyaz were detained from Wednesday afternoon.