|Chakraborty after the verdict. Picture by Amit Datta
Calcutta, March 29: The Oxytown murders, which wiped out a family and sent shockwaves across the city almost eight years ago, have blown up in the face of law enforcers with a court acquitting the accused for lack of evidence.
Lakshmi Narayan Chakraborty, a schoolteacher, and Chandan Das, an alleged contract killer, were charged with slitting the throats of Sohini Pal, her parents and sister after making them unconscious on June 9, 1999, in Behala.
The decomposed bodies of Sohini, 22, Triparna, 16, Majulika, 51, and Bidyut, 55, were found five days later after neighbours complained of foul smell.
“The prosecution has miserably failed to prove the guilt of the accused,” additional district judge B. Banerjee said. “No conclusive evidence has been produced.”
The prosecution had said Chakraborty, who was Sohini’s private tutor, had an affair with the 22-year-old. When she became pregnant and asked Chakraborty to marry her, he turned her down, saying he was already married. He asked her to get an abortion done, the prosecution said.
According to the chargesheet, relations between the Pals and Chakraborty soured and the tutor hired Das to kill all four members of the family.
On the evening of June 9, Sohini and her family fell unconscious after Chakraborty laced their tea with Nitravate, a sedative. Then he sent in Das who slit their throats, the chargesheet said.
Amitabha Ganguly, Chakraborty’s senior lawyer, said the chargesheet was “full of lies”. “Das was arrested 40 days after Chakraborty was held when it had become impossible for the police to prove the charges. So they brought in another person to make the plot stick,” Ganguly said.
He said the deposition by 29 witnesses did not corroborate the charges. “The prosecution could not provide a satisfactory reply when the judge asked why the police were unable to produce the weapon.”
The prosecution had also alleged that Chakraborty plotted the murders to keep his relationship with Sohini under wraps. But, Ganguly said, the tutor’s neighbours and his wife were aware of the affair. His wife had filed for divorce, too. “The motive for killing the family could not be established,” Ganguly said.
However, Chakraborty and his wife stay together now. After today’s judgment, Chakraborty said: “It’s a pity that the real killers of the Pal family are still at large.”
Chakraborty has been out on bail since November 1999 as the CID could not file the chargesheet in 90 days, and Das since January 2000.