Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Actions taken to cover up crime ghastlier than the killing itself

In the first week of January this year, the people of West Bengal were shocked by one of the ghastliest murders reported in the state during the last few years.

On January 5, Md Ansarul was arrested from Siliguri in North Bengal for killing his wife Renuka Khatun, then chopping her body into several pieces and dumping those pieces in a canal.

Siliguri Metropolitan Police commissioner Akhilesh Chaturvedi said then that Renuka was missing since December 24 last year, when a missing complaint was filed at a local police station. However, at that time the arrested husband claimed ignorance about his wife’s whereabouts.

“During the course of investigation the husband became a suspect and finally on January 5 he admitted the crime on the same day when the missing complaint was filed 12 days ago,” Chaturvedi said.

Further investigation revealed that Renuka used to attend a beautician’s course at Siliguri and the husband suspected her of having extramarital affairs although no proof on this count surfaced. On interrogation Ansarul confessed that on December 24 last year, he took his wife to nearby Phansidewa and there he first killed her and then cut her body into two pieces before dumping the body parts in the Teesta Canal,” he said.

Earlier in November last year the body of 55-year-old Ujjwal Chakraborty was cut into five pieces and dumped at several places at Baruipur in South 24 Parganas district in West Bengal. The accused arrested in this connection were the victim’s wife Shyamali Chakraborty and son, Joy Chakraborty.

Investigation revealed that after a heated argument, the son strangled his father, who was in an inebriated state at that time. After he died, the mother and the son planned to hide his body after wrapping it in a plastic sack.

Facing difficulties in wrapping his entire body, Joy Chakraborty chopped off the limbs of his deceased father with a surgical knife, wrapped the body parts in plastic sacks and dumped them at several places.

In May 2017, the police recovered the body of Anupam Sinha (34), who worked as a manager with a travel agency. Investigation revealed that the murder was planned by Anupam’s wife Manua, who was in an extramarital relationship with Ajit Roy, the man who committed the murder. In an attempt to hide Manua’s involvement in the murder, Ajit killed Anupam while she was away from home.

Ajit first hit Anupam on the head with an iron rod and then slit his veins with a sharp knife. On the insistence of Manua, Ajit dialled her while slitting Anupam’s veins so that she could ‘relish’ her husband’s last screams on the phone.

Legal brains feel that in most such crimes the focus often shifts from the murder itself to follow-up ghastly actions like chopping up the body and dumping the parts after packing them in plastic sacks.

“A murder accused is tried under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, the maximum punishment is the death penalty. However, in the case of the follow-up ghastly actions the accused is also tried under Section 120 B of the IPC that deals with punishment for criminal conspiracy where the punishment is rigorous imprisonment starting from two years which can be extended according to the grievousness of the crime. But you see that in all these cases that you referred to, the public attention is more on the follow-up part rather than the main crime. It is really difficult to analyze such cases of crime of passion strictly from the legal angle. There are psychological angles involved in such cases,” said High Court counsel Kaushik Gupta.

Dr Tirthankar Guha Thakurata, a faculty with KPC Medical College & Hospital and a visiting faculty with the Department of Psychology of the University of Calcutta, agreed with Gupta. “At a point of time when anyone feels that there is no chance for dialogue to solve the issue, then he or she not only takes the extreme step but also resorts to such ghastly and macabre actions. The first hit that killed the victim might be out of impulse. But the follow-up macabre actions are often intended by the sub-conscious desires to prolong the association with that hit of impulse. This happens in some cases of psychological imbalance,” Dr Thakurata said.

Retired police officer P Ganguly pointed out that in most cases of such crimes of passion, the accused do not have any repentance for their actions. “Generally after a crime like murder, fear or repentance works among the accused that one action of impulse has ruined his or her own life as well. But in my experience, often such people accused of such ghastly actions try to justify their actions,” he said.

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