The Telegraph
Wednesday , July 9 , 2014
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Two youths held for 65-yr-old’s murder

The murder of a 65-year-old man in his Elliot Road flat last month has led to the arrest of a youth in Mumbai and one of his friends who lived in the same locality as the victim.

The WhatsApp profile picture of the youth who shifted to Mumbai to attend acting classes led the sleuths to the accused.

Police said Deb Kumar Mukherjee had been strangulated after he refused to help Mohammad Hassan and Mohammad Niaz prepare a document they needed to usurp a property Niaz owned with his relatives.

Hassan, in his 20s, aspired to become a film star and shifted to Mumbai from the Elliot Road area a few years ago, the police said. Niaz is still a resident of the Elliot Road neighbourhood where Mukherjee lived.

The 65-year-old, a widower, was found lying dead on the floor of his living room by a courier who had come to deliver his phone bill on June 11. There were scuffle marks on the body but the house did not seem ransacked, suggesting that the assailants did not take away anything.

“Since there was no apparent disturbance in the scene of crime, it was obvious that the killers came with a purpose. Mukherjee used to live alone and did not have too many visitors. On examining several neighbours, we found that one man with long hair and earrings had come to meet Mukherjee at an odd hour a few days before he was killed,” said an officer of Park Street police station.

Analysing the victim’s call details of that day, the police zeroed in on a phone number from where a call had come to Mukherjee late that night.

“The number was registered in the name of a resident of North 24-Parganas. We focused on the IMEI number of the handset containing the SIM card and found that as many as 10 SIM cards had been inserted into it at various points. That left us suspicious,” the officer said.

The sleuths saved all the 10 numbers on a cell phone. “While saving one of the numbers, a picture displayed on the WhatsApp messenger,” said an officer.

WhatsApp is an online messaging service. A mobile phone user who has installed WhatsApp can see the profile picture of the contacts on his phone if the contacts use the application, too.

In this case, one of the accused had used his photograph as the WhatsApp profile picture.

“With the photograph, it was not very difficult to identify him. We learnt that Mohammad Hassan had originally been from the same locality as Mukherjee and shifted to Mumbai. It was found that he had come to Calcutta around the time Mukherjee was murdered. A team nabbed him in Mumbai on Monday. Hassan admitted his role in Mukherjee’s murder,” said an officer.

Pursuing his statement, the police arrested Niaz from the Park Street area on Monday.

“The duo knew Mukherjee was attached to a law firm. Niaz asked Mukherjee to help him prepare some legal documents. Mukherjee had agreed but later backed out when he learnt that the papers would be used to usurp a property in Howrah that Niaz owned with his relatives. Mukherjee’s refusal angered the duo, who in a fit of rage killed him,” police said.

The accused have been remanded in police custody till July 21.

Mukherjee, who had lost his wife nine months ago, was a member of Pronam, the Calcutta police’s support system for elderly persons living alone. He had responded to a routine phone call from Park Street police station hours before he was found dead.

Mukherjee’s son and his wife live in Delhi.