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Retired professor found murdered at home

Bandel: A 66-year-old former professor of Kalyani University was found murdered at her house in Bandel's Kazidanga on Thursday morning.

Sulekha Mukherjee, who had retired as head of the university's mathematics department, was found lying on the floor of a ground-floor room, between a bed and a dining table.

"A piece cloth was tied around her mouth. Her throat was slit and her head was bludgeoned," an officer of the local Chandernagore police commissionerate said.

"The body lay in a pool of blood. A blood-soaked stone grinder was found near her head, along with a pair of gloves."

The woman, second among three sisters and three brothers, lived alone in the double-storeyed house, which is known for a collection of archaeological items. Mukherjee's father Sudhir Lal had built the house in the 1970s and ran an institute called Hooghly Zilla Itihas Anushilan Kendra from the address.

The police suspect the assailants had come looking for something.

The killers did not apparently touch the earrings, bangles and a silver chain with a golden Ganesha locket that Mukherjee was wearing.

An almirah and two showcases in the room where the body was found were ransacked and the items dumped on the bed. A chequebook lay on the bed. No leaf was apparently missing. The almirahs in the other three other rooms on the ground floor were ransacked, too. "It seems the killers were desperately looking for something," the officer said. The only item seems missing is Mukherjee's cellphone.

Every morning Madhavi Karmakar, Sulekha's domestic help, would press the doorbell around 6.30 and turn up half an hour later for cleaning the rooms and washing utensils. No one opened the gates on Thursday morning, prompting Karmakar to raise the alarm.

Some neighbours arrived and peeped through doors. They spotted the body and got in touch with the Mukherjee's youngest brother, who lives close by. When he turned up, the neighbours broke open the door and stepped in. "We are trying to find out the motive behind the murder. It will take us some time," said Atul V., additional deputy commissioner of police, Chandernagore police commissionerate.

The cops suspect the assassins entered and left the house through the terrace door, which Mukherjee would leave unlocked. Among the three sisters, the eldest lives in Scotland and the youngest in Chandernagore. A few years back, the three had pooled in money to build a house on a 12-cottah plot around 100m from the house built by their father. They named the house "Teen Bon (Three Sisters)".

The vice-chancellor of Kalyani University, Sankar Kumar Ghosh, said: "I heard about her a lot. She was a great teacher and an asset to the university. Her death is a loss for the academic community."

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