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Image: Pooja and her mother Mithu in a file photo from the family album. 

Barasat: IN a bone-chilling crime, a middle-aged man in North 24-Parganas district murdered his wife and daughter and lived for nearly three days by stashing the dead bodies underneath the cot on which he slept.

During the period, he had biryani in the meal and drank alcohol as a beverage. The killer Sekhar Debnath, a businessman gone bankrupt, has been arrested by the police.

His daughter Pooja Debnath (15) was appearing for her school final (Madhyamik) exam this year; wife Mithu Debnath (35) was a homemaker. The family lived at Masalandapur Biswashati area under Habra police station jurisdiction.

Pooja was a student of Masalandapur Bhudeb Smriti Balika Vidyalaya. On 17 March, Saturday, she came home after writing a Madhyamik paper.

Her killer father has confessed to police that when Pooja returned home that day, her mother was not home. He hit the teenage girl in the head with a piece of wood. Once she fell to the floor and fainted, he strangulated Pooja using a saree.

His wife Mithu returned home about an hour later. He killed her in the same fashion. Later, Sekhar wrapped the dead bodies of his wife and daughter with a plastic sheet and slid it under a wooden cot in the master bedroom on the first-floor of his house.

Since the neighbours could not spot Pooja or her mother after Saturday afternoon, they enquired with Sekhar on Sunday noon. He told them that the two have gone to his in-law’s house and will return soon.

Sekhar’s sister-in-law dialled his mobile thrice on Sunday to speak to her elder sister Mithu. He bluffed her saying either he was shopping for vegetables or was out to attend the cremation of a friend.

When Pooja did not go to write her Madhyamik paper yesterday (19 March), her classmates came calling in the afternoon to enquire. Sekhar could not tell them where his daughter was and rather behaved incoherently.

This turned the classmates suspicious and they told this to the neighbours. The neighbours then started quizzing Sekhar as to the whereabouts of his wife and daughter.

Instead of answering them, he shut the door to his house and rushed up to the first-floor saying that he will commit suicide. The neighbours alerted the Habra police station at once.

Cops came and broke into the house. They found Sekhar standing on the wooden cot and trying to hang himself. A stench had turned the air in the room nearly un-breathable.

Cops overpowered Sekhar and sent him to Habra State General Hospital. A search led to the discovery of the partially decomposed dead bodies of his wife and daughter from under the cot. There were empty packets of biryani, an empty liquor bottle, and two glasses in a corner of the room.

After the overnight hospitalisation, Sekhar stabilised today and was arrested by police for the double murder.

Sekhar has told police that he had accumulated huge debts after failing in the businesses of manufacturing school and travel bags and then in apparel manufacturing as well.

With no other way get out of the debt-burden, he decided to kill his entire family, including himself. However, after murdering wife and daughter, he apparently could not gather the courage to commit suicide.

Police are not taking his statement on face-value because Sekhar chose to carry out the murders during the Madhyamik exam of his daughter. Secondly, two liquor glasses have been found in his bedroom suggesting that there was probably someone else with him.