A tourist from Calcutta was found dead on Sunday morning in a secluded and forested stretch near Batasia Loop, the spiral rail route that the Darjeeling toy train takes on its ascent to the hill station.
The body of Subhajit Bhattacharya, 31, was found around a kilometre downhill from NH55 by a group of locals who had gone there to cut grass. The nearest settlement, called Municipal Gaon, is around the highway, which extends to Siliguri. There's not even a walking trail around the spot where the body of the Baguiati resident was found with a injury on the forehead.
Amit P. Javalgi, the superintendent of police, Darjeeling, said: "The body of a man from Calcutta has been recovered from an area under Jorebunglow police station. The place is pretty steep and not an area a tourist would visit. We are probing all angles."
Batasia Loop, where the tracks of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway form a double loop, is a popular tourist spot 5km from the town. The body was found more than a kilometre from where people usually gather for scenic views of the Himalayan peaks.
A police officer who did not want to be named said Subhajit's injury might have been caused either by a blunt weapon or a fall down the slope. "We found his mobile phone, a wallet with Rs 250 inside, ATM card, voter identity card and a train ticket. But all call and text records had been deleted from the phone," the officer said.
A bag containing a rubber pistol and toys, including a ball, and a book in Bengali on murder was also found near the body.
Going by the rail ticket found on him, Subhajit, a bachelor, had taken a train from Sealdah on February 19. It is not clear whether he was travelling alone.
Subhajit's family members don't have a clue if anyone had accompanied him to north Bengal and then to Darjeeling. The police said they were still trying to find out whether there was anyone with Subhajit when he died.
His uncle Pranab Bhattacharya said: "Subhajit left home on Friday evening after telling his mother that some friends of his were waiting for him in Darjeeling. He did not say when he would return."
According to Pranab, Subhajit had quit his job at a local medical store after a tiff with the owner two days before that. "He seemed a bit upset over this," said Pranab, on his way to Darjeeling by road to bring the body.
Subhajit's elder brother had last spoken to him over phone on Saturday afternoon. The young man told his brother that he was out on a trip and would call back once he returned to the hotel. His phone was found switched off after that.
Prosenjit and his uncle said they didn't know the friends Subhajit was supposed to join in Darjeeling. Subhajit's father is a temple priest while sibling Prosenjit helps uncle Pranab with his electrical fittings business.
A police officer called Pranab around 10.30am on Sunday to inform him about Subhajit's death and asked him to visit Darjeeling to identify the body.