The body of a 28-year-old man was found hanging from a swing in a GC Block playground on Tuesday. The body of Sushanto Adhikari, a resident of Duttabad, has been sent for post mortem but prima facie it appears to be a suicide. Nonetheless it has rattled residents in the otherwise quaint neighbourhood.
A washerman who irons clothes in a shack on the park’s footpath, first spotted the body and alerted others. “The body was hanging from a gamchha that we had to cut and bring him down,” said an officer of Bidhannagar South police station.
Adhikari is said to have been depressed as the family of his lover had rejected him. The man was unemployed and did odd jobs. “We suspect that he moved around on his bike late on Monday night and choose this playground as it is overrun with weeds and tall grass,” said the officer.
Shivers through the block
The incident has rattled residents. If some are now feeling scared to be living next to the park, others are blaming the state of the park for the incident. GC Block has several parks but this one (on the Broadway and opposite HA Block’s Amir Fast Food Centre), has been in particularly bad shape.
“The grass hasn’t been cut in over six months, the lights barely work and the play equipment is broken. So most people avoid entering it. It’s no wonder the chap chose this site for the suicide,” said a GC Block lady who walks her daughter to the park every morning to catch the school bus. “There was a time my daughter would play on the swings here before her bus arrived but now the jungle makes it impossible for kids to enter. Even morning walkers have boycotted the park.”
The domestic helps, drivers and vendors of the block say they are being accosted by all and sundry to share details of the suicide. “It’s all everyone has been talking about,” says Mainak Simlai, secretary of the block association. “We have never had an incident like this in our block and everyone is concerned.”
BEFORE & AFTER: The swing in the midst of overgrown bushes at 7.10am Wednesday. (Below) The bushes cleared by 4.40pm
Tapati Sinha, a domestic help who walks into GC Blocks at around 5.30am, says the park and its lanes are a den of anti-socials even then. “Every other day they try to molest us so we walk in groups,” she says. “Today it was a suicide; will it be a murder next?”
Arvind Rajak, one of the dhobis outside the park, says people only go there for booze sessions. “Even this morning I found empty beer bottles dumped outside the park,” he said on Wednesday. “I’m spooked out of my wits; who knows if the park is haunted now! I chanted the lord’s name till I dozed off last night.”
Some drivers and domestic helps sleep on the park’s footpath and they too are frightened. “Every time I close my eyes I think of the incident. And it doesn’t help that the setting is that of a creepy jungle,” driver Premchandra Jha said on Wednesday morning. Another driver, Kamod Mishra, hoped that the incident would make the authorities clean up the park.
Action at last
Nilanjana Manna, the councillor of the ward, initially blamed the civic body’s conservancy department for the lack of maintenance. She then changed tack and said that the joint commissioner of the corporation was in charge of the park.
“I have got responsibility of maintaining the park three days ago. Moreover weeds and overgrown bushes have nothing to do with the suicide,” said Manna.
When it was suggested that the shoulder-high undergrowth provided the cover that Sushanto might have been seeking Manna said that she would ask the mayoral council member in charge of lighting to install more lights in the park.
Residents are unimpressed. “It’s an open secret that Manna neglects our block since another councillor, Rajesh Chirimar, lives here,” said a resident who did not want to named. “We had grown tired of asking her to clear that park. It’s so sad that someone had to die before she took notice!”
The death indeed has finally turned the attention of the civic authorities to the park. By Wednesday afternoon, three municipal workers cleared the park with a mechanised grass cutter. “We’ve been asked to clear the park since a body has been found here,” they said.
Chirimar claimed on Wednesday that he had helped to get funds from a central urban development scheme to beautify the park. “Work will start in the next couple of days,” he said.