Increasing crime rates in the city of Kolkata:
The crime rates of the city of Kolkata seem to have increased consistently in the past few years. Even though the Calcutta Police and the Bengal Police have been conjoined into a bigger force of Kolkata Police, the increasing crime rates only highlights the inadequacy and ineptitude of the police force. Molestations, rapes, rape and murder are increasing every day, but the legal authorities seem to be completely oblivious about it. The new crime wave that is sweeping over the city, are the armed snatchers, who mainly target elderly women. They attack the victims where they feel safest, i.e. in their locality, on high speed motorcycles, that guarantees an unhindered escape. Such snatcher gangs are usually armed and ruthless enough to open fire to discourage any attempts of apprehension, and they usually operate in broad daylight, in an extreme defiance to the law and order system of the city.
While the elderly women have become soft targets, another trend of crime is mushrooming in the city that preys on the elderly couples living alone, with their children settled out of the city or abroad. The old maid quits and the new maid joins. These maids usually come from the extreme suburbs of Kolkata, which happens to be the hotbeds of anti social activities. On many occasions it has been found that, the new maid is actually a plant for a gang of robbers, whose sole motive is to study the routine of the household and give the gang the tip off for a robbery, when the time is ripe. Interestingly, such cases also occur mostly in broad daylight.
The murder case of Ranjit Chatterjee in broad daylight:
Yet another instance of heinous criminals preying on elderly and defenseless citizens was the brutal murder of the retired Chartered Accountant Ranjit Chatterjee (82), residing in the Deshapriya Park area. This was, however, a simple and straightforward crime, perpetrated by the apparently trustworthy sweeper Sona Das (35), with no tip – offs or external gangs involved. The sweeper Das has been serving the Chatterjee household for the last 15years and evidently knew the routine of the said household like the back of his hand.
Ranjit Chatterjee lived with his ailing wife Pratima Chatterjee, at 17, Bipin Pal Road, who was bedfast mostly, with their only child, a daughter, settled in the US. 17, Bipin Pal Road is an eight bed roomed, two storied bungalow with the occupants living on the first floor, the ground floor being empty. It was around 10:45 on the fateful morning of November 20th, when the unsuspecting daytime maid of the house, one Soma Bhowmik (28) alias Minu, tossed the house keys to the side entrance, from the first floor verandah, following the 15 years old routine, to Das, so that he can gain entry in the house, to complete his cleaning chores. Das, originally a resident of Jharkhand, had turned up every morning at the Chatterjee residence, for the past fifteen years, to attend to the cleanup routines. As per the testimony given to the police by Minu, “She said that after she saw Das enter the house, she left for the kitchen, prepared tea for Mr. Chatterjee, served it on the dining table and left to take her bath in a bathroom on the terrace. She said that when she returned, she found Das lying in one of the bedrooms on the first floor, with his hands tied behind his back and their employer still sitting. Then they both came down shouting for help”.
The police started to have bad vibes about Das, who, with his legs free and not gagged, had simply laid there till the maid spotted him. The suspicions were further confirmed by the fact that, Das had made no attempts to raise any alarm, till the maid saw him, although he had every chance of doing so. Initially Das had claimed that two ‘pump mechanics’ had accompanied him inside the house, which is in the stark contrast of the testimony of Minu, who had confirmed to the police of witnessing Das entering the house alone. As initially described in his lame testimony, these two individuals had held Das at knife point, tied his hands behind his back, and abandoned him in one of the bedrooms. Neighbors became aware of the crime when Das, with his hands still tied behind his back, and Minu came running out of the house, hollering for help at around 11:40AM, almost an hour after Das had gained entry inside the house. As confirmed by a security guard, one Akbar Sheikh of an adjacent building, “Das had his hands tied when he and Minu came running out screaming for help, claiming that the killers were still inside. I told them to inform the police. Minu used my cell phone to dial 100”.
The police refused to buy the lame alibis of Das, and under intensive interrogation in the police custody for nearly 12 hours, Das finally gave up and spilled the beans. He admitted his crime, and as per the statements of deputy commissioner (south), Murli Dhar Sharma, “He broke down before the investigators and said that he had taken the help of a friend to rob Chatterjee, who was killed because he had resisted their bid to overpower him”. Chatterjee, who put up a struggle against Das and his accomplice, was garroted probably with a length of tarpaulin or thick jute rope that the decorators usually implement to secure one bamboo pole to another, while erecting pandals. Pratima Chatterjee (80), the bedridden wife of Mr. Chatterjee, was fast asleep in an adjacent bedroom, totally oblivious of the grisly murder unraveling outside her room. The police found the body of Mr. Chatterjee, still seated in a chair of the dining table, dead as a doornail, with his half full tumbler of tea on the table and the newspaper of the day lying on the floor beside his feet.
The motive as always was money. Das, however, tried to sell the police, a story of a medical emergency of a relative, for which he needed immediate cash. The chauffer Bishu had admitted to the police of telling Das of the Rs1.5 lakhs he had received from Mr. Chatterjee, probably as a house loan, which caused Das to have the misconception, that there was a lot of money in the house. The loot, presumably, was two meager cell phones, that were missing, even the ten thousand rupees, the only cash in the house that Mr. Chatterjee kept for medical emergencies, were lying in its usual cupboard, untouched.
A whiskey bottle, a soda bottle, a small container of chewing tobacco and a knife were recovered from the crime scene. Das acceded to having a drink with his accomplice before committing the murder. The accomplice as fingered by Das, living in the nearby slums of Manoharpukur, is absconding.
The murder case of Ranjit Chatterjee was an act of senseless violence. After all, how much struggle can an eighty two year old man put up, against two grown up men in their thirties, provided of course that, Das did have an accomplice. Even if Das was alone, he was perfectly capable of subduing Mr. Chatterjee, sparing the heinous act of asphyxiating an eighty two year old man to death. Das is a ruthless criminal, who has no right to live in a civilized society. The city is crawling with the kinds of Das, and the police force is proving to be an absolutely worthless apparatus of the law, in countering them. In fact they cannot even take any actions against the high stake motorcycle drag races that take place almost every night on the Beckbagan flyover, sections of Golfgreen, and Narendrapur, jeopardizing the rest of the traffic in the area. It is to be mentioned here that, most of these bikers are drug addicts, snatchers and in possession of illegal firearms.
Young women cannot venture out alone in the fear of rape and molestation, elderly women are soft targets for snatchers in their own locality in broad daylight, elderly couples staying alone have to be on guard every moment, scared and tense….what kind of jungle are we living in?!