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Kolkata police focus on stolen phone for Bhowanipore couple murder clue

Stab marks found on Ashok Shah, bullet wound on wife

Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 08.06.22, 07:56 AM
Family members and friends of Ashok and Rashmita Shah at Bhowanipore police station on Wednesday.

Family members and friends of Ashok and Rashmita Shah at Bhowanipore police station on Wednesday.

Pradip Sanyal

One of the two mobile phones stolen from the house of Ashok and Rashmita Shah was found to be active till early on Tuesday at multiple locations on Strand Road and Auckland Road in central Kolkata, police said.

That means the person who is suspected to have stolen the mobile phones may have visited those locations, an officer involved in the probe said. CCTV footage of the areas is being scanned to identify the accused.

Ashok, 60, and his wife Rashmita, 56, were found murdered in their ground-floor apartment in a three-storey building on a congested Harish Mukherjee Road in south Kolkata on Monday evening.

Some jewellery and cash, along with two mobile phones, were missing from the house, the family has reported to the police.

The police said one of the two phones was found to be switched off, while the other was active till Tuesday morning.

“Initially, we thought the killer had deliberately kept it on to divert police investigation, but later we came to know from one of the family members that the phone had an in-built system that prevents it from being turned off unless the screenlock is opened,” said an officer at Lalbazar.

A senior officer involved in the investigation said Shah’s preliminary post-mortem report suggests there were multiple stab wounds on his body, including a large wound on the right side of his stomach and one on his head.

“His body was found with his hands clutched around his waist,” said an officer.

Rashmita’s body had one bullet injury at the back of her head, which caused her death. From the nature of the injury, it appeared the bullet was shot from a close range, the police said.

The family has reported that some gold ornaments and Rs 30,000 were missing from the house. One of the cupboards was found ransacked and there were signs of failed attempts to break a iron cupboard, the police said.

The couple’s second daughter, Sneha, who is married and lives with her family elsewhere in Bhowanipore, was the first to spot her parents dead around 6.15pm.

She had turned up at the apartment to check on the parents after failing to connect with them over the phone for several hours.

“According to the preliminary findings of the post-mortem, the couple were possibly killed between 1pm and 2pm on Monday. We are contacting all the persons with whom the couple had spoken on Monday,” said an investigator.

On Tuesday morning, the police recorded the statements of the three daughters of the slain couple and other family members.

The police said that although it appeared to be a “murder for gain”, it was yet to be ascertained whether there was any other motive behind the killings.

Officers said they have come to know that Shah had decided to sell his flat and taken an advance of Rs 1 lakh from a prospective buyer.

“However, the fact that he did not encash any of the two cheques could mean that he was re-evaluating the offer. He was also talking to a second prospective buyer. We need to find out whether there was any dispute,” an officer said.

Last updated on 08.06.22, 07:56 AM
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