The Inside Story
POLBA (HOOGHLY): Less than 24 hours of a woman being raped by robbers in South 24-Parganas' Canning, a gang of four murdered a wealthy farmer in Hooghly's Polba around midnight on Tuesday, raped his wife before fleeing with valuables.

Patna village, where the incident took place, is around 60 km from Kolkata. The woman was sent for a medical examination after she broke down and narrated her ordeal before senior police officers.

Krishna Chandra Mal, 50, who owns around 25 bighas of fertile land, lived with his 40-year-old wife and teenaged son. Around midnight on Tuesday, he left his bedroom to go the toilet, which is located outside the main building. His wife followed him outside. As soon as Mal opened the courtyard door, four men allegedly pounced on him. Two of them pinned him down while the rest turned their attention to his wife. Before she could get over the shock, she was gagged and trussed up. The goons pushed her into a room.

The men then entered the room where Mal's son Kushal, 14, was asleep. They gagged and tied him up before starting to loot valuables from the house. By then, Mal had managed to break free from his captors and rushed towards the house. At this point, one of the miscreants pulled out a dagger and slit his throat. After Mal fell on the ground, he was stabbed repeatedly.

"Even as Mal bled to death in the courtyard, the criminals entered the room where his wife was confined. According to the woman, the men abused her sexually before leaving with the valuables they had looted. After some time, Kushal succeeded in freeing himself and went to his mother's help. Mal had died by then. The two then raised an alarm," a police officer said.

On Wednesday morning, a large number of villagers led by Trinamool Congress leaders gheraoed Polba police station, demanding arrest of the accused. Initially, a case of murder and robbery was registered at the police station. Later, when additional SP Ashis Biswas reached the village, the woman broke down and told him that she was raped. She said she decided to break her silence after receiving support from the villagers. She was sent to the Imambara Hospital in Chinsurah for a medical examination.

"Before leaving, she spoke to us but could not say why somebody would want to kill her husband or rape her. Mal had sold the potatoes he had grown some time ago and deposited the money in the bank. His wife told us that he had obtained a tractor on hire-purchase recently. Some EMIs are still pending and Mal had allegedly received some threat calls in this regard. We shall look into this angle," the officer added.

Barely a month ago, a widow from Polba was lured by a relative to a place where some miscreants were having alcohol and raped. Four persons have been arrested in that case.

"We have got some clues and are investigating the matter. We hope to make a breakthrough soon," Biswas said.

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Woman raped by goons she hired to kill husband

POLBA (HOOGHLY): Police have dug up a fact more bizarre than fiction in the gangrape of a 39-year-old woman in Hooghly's Polba, 60km from Kolkata. Investigators say she was raped by the killers she had hired with the help of her lover to murder her husband.

The lover, Zico Pal alias Potla, is a rich, married farmer 14 years younger to the woman. He wept inconsolably in the police station as he narrated how he tried to stop the killers from raping her, sources said. But the gang tied him up and went on raping the woman.

The four killers had been hired by Potla from Belgharia on the city's fringes, Baranagar and Bandel, police said. He and the woman have confessed to the crime. The lovers and the killers have been arrested.

Police grew suspicious of the woman because she seemed reluctant to file a complaint of rape although a medical examination had confirmed sexual assault. Her FIR mentioned only dacoity and murder. It was her 14-year- old son, Kushal, who told the villagers she had been raped. She added a rape complaint at their insistence.

The incident occurred around midnight on March 28 in Patna village of Polba. The woman's 50-year-old husband, Krishna Chandra Mal, a wealthy potato farmer, was attacked in his courtyard when he got up to go to the bathroom. The robbers slit Mal's throat and stabbed him repeatedly before they ransacked the house to make it look like a dacoity. They tied and gagged his wife and son. But before leaving with the loot, they took turns sexually assaulting the woman.

Potla has admitted he had led the way to Mal's house and was present during the incident, police said. He had not told the gang of his involvement with the woman and was shocked when they decided to rape her before leaving the house. He tried to stop them but in vain. It was Kushal who managed to free himself and alert neighbours.

Inconsistencies in woman's statements alerted police: Police say the woman had a kind of obsession for Potla. "The two would meet whenever she went to her maternal home in Balagarh. Potla would even visit her house on a motorcycle when her husband was not around. The two would spend some time in private on the terrace. After arresting the criminals who raided Mal's house, we came to know that they were hired by Potla. The conspiracy became clear thereafter," an officer said. "During sustained interrogation, the woman broke down and confessed to her involvement," he added.

"There were inconsistencies in the woman's statements from the start. Since the time we started the investigation, we suspected that there was more to the incident than what was being said. It was after sustained interrogation of the woman and the four accused that we got to the bottom of the matter," said Hooghly SP Tanmoy Roy Chowdhury.

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