The apartment building where Sulochana Chary (right) lived. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
A retired schoolteacher staying alone in a south Calcutta apartment was found dead with her throat slit on Sunday afternoon, moments after a student who had gone there for tuition heard screams coming from inside the house.
Sulochana Chary, 69, used to teach English and geography at National High School for Girls near Deshapriya Park. She had been giving private tuitions in her third-floor flat at Bediadanga No. 2 Lane near Lalkuthi, barely a kilometre from the Bypass-Rashbehari connector, since her retirement.
The girl who had heard what appeared to be Sulochana screaming for help around 4.15pm immediately alerted a relative, who in turn called a colleague of the retired schoolteacher to go and check on her.
“The teacher reached the flat but the door was locked from inside. So she contacted a friend of Sulochana’s who lives across the lane and apparently had a duplicate key to the apartment.
Shanthy Raghupathy opened the door to the one-bedroom flat and found her friend on the floor in a pool of blood. An inch-deep cut in her throat had caused profuse bleeding, possibly resulting in her death, the police said.
“Her mobile phone was missing and the wardrobe had been ransacked. All her clothes were spread on the bed. She was wearing a ring and no other valuables. The neighbours aren’t sure whether she had any other piece of jewellery on her when she was presumably attacked,” said an officer of the city police’s homicide department.
There are six flats in the four-storey building, which doesn’t have guards or CCTVs for surveillance.
Joint commissioner of police (crime) Pallab Kanti Ghosh said investigators would need to confirm what else was missing from the apartment to establish a motive behind the crime.
Sulochana’s domestic help of several years was taken to Kasba police station for interrogation in the evening.
Whoever attacked Sulochana did not need to tamper with the auto-locking system on the main door, the police said.
“Since the door was locked from inside, it may be that the assailant was known to her and had closed the door before leaving,” an officer said.
Sulochana’s roots are in Chennai but she had been living in Calcutta for several decades. She was a spinster.
A member of the governing body of National High School for Girls said she had taught there from 1966 till 2004. “She was very popular among the students because of her helpful nature. She would hold special classes for the academically weaker students,” said S.S. Kumar, a past president of National high schools.
“I am in shock. She was my English and geography teacher from classes VI till X. We used to be very scared of her because she was strict but she was also very sweet. I remember she came to our reunion, back in 2005, despite an injury because she was excited about meeting us. She was like family,” said ex-student Swati Tewari.
Sulochana had attended a school batch reunion on Saturday. She had been felicitated along with other former teachers at the school last Teachers’ Day.