Trusted duo held for murder

Shyamali Ghosh was allegedly bludgeoned, strangulated and smothered by gardener Swapan Mandal

  • Published 7.04.19, 1:50 AM
  • Updated 7.04.19, 1:50 AM
  • 2 mins read
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The apartment (circled) in Jodhpur Park where the 75-year-old woman was found dead. Picture by Gautam Bose

A gardener and a security guard of the building in Jodhpur Park where a 75-year-old woman was found dead on Thursday have been arrested for allegedly murdering her.

Shyamali Ghosh was allegedly bludgeoned, strangulated and smothered by gardener Swapan Mandal, who supplied flowers to put in front of her dead parents’ photographs every day, and guard Sanjib Das who did odd jobs for her.

Police suspect someone had hired the duo to kill Ghosh, who lived alone in a 3000sq ft flat on the third floor of the four-storey building. The other floors are owned by a family that lives on the top floor.

The arrested gardener and guard of the Jodhpur Park building.
The arrested gardener and guard of the Jodhpur Park building. Telegraph picture

Mandal, 46, and Das, 51, were named on a list that Ghosh had jotted down in her diary, expressing fear that they were plotting to kill her, an officer said. Both were trusted by Ghosh and entrusted with responsibilities that were a part of her daily life.

There were three other names on Ghosh’s list, whose role the police are probing.

The two accused will be produced in court on Sunday. Both of them have confessed to their crime and showed the police how they entered the flat on Wednesday morning on the pretext of supplying flowers to Ghosh and then killed her in the bedroom.

“We took them to the scene of crime to reconstruct how the crime unfolded. Mandal showed us the exact location in the kitchen from where he had picked up a pair of tongs with which Ghosh was hit on the back of her head,” said deputy commissioner (south east) Kalyan Mukherjee.

Mandal and Das have allegedly told the police that they sat on Ghosh’s bed for around 15 minutes, looking for traces of life in the body that lay in a pool of blood on the floor before them. The duo left the flat once they were certain that their target was dead, the police said.

Das worked on night shift and usually left his post by 8am, when the guard on morning duty would replace him. On the day of the murder, he had left the building an hour later than usual, the police said.

Shyamali Ghosh
Shyamali Ghosh Telegraph picture

“The guard on morning shift has said in his statement that Das took a bath after he was relieved from duty and seemed unusually laidback in his preparations to leave for home,” an officer said.

Ghosh, a spinster, was found dead in her room on Thursday morning after newspapers were seen lying stacked at her doorstep and repeated calls to her cellphone by a neighbour had gone unanswered.

The neighbour alerted Ghosh’s sister, who lives in the Amherst Street area, and she came and opened the flat with a duplicate key.

Investigators have found that Ghosh had placed photographs of her dead parents on a double bed in one of the rooms of the flat. A picture of her mother was also placed on a single bed in the room where she slept on another single bed.

“She would offer food in front of the photographs every day and then eat it as prasad. When we reached the spot, we found two glasses of water and some biscuits in front of her parents’ photograph, suggesting that she had offered them the biscuits early in the morning and was yet to remove them,” an officer said.

A few years ago, an 82-year-old retired chartered accountant was killed by a cleaner who had been going to his south Calcutta home for 15 years.