By Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
The ghastly murder in Delhi's Mehrauli area where a youth killed his live-in partner and stored the body in a refrigerator after chopping it into 35 pieces has sent shock waves across the country.
Police officers, legal experts and psychiatrists in Kolkata recall a somewhat similar incident in West Bengal where a husband became a victim of his spouse's extra-marital affair followed by macabre post-murder activity.
In May 2017, the police recovered the body of Anupum 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 extra-marital 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 her 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 phone.
Retired IPS officer and former Additional Director General of West Bengal Police, Raj Kanodia, told IANS that there are two factors common between Manua's case and the Mehrauli murder.
"In both the murders, the offenders broke out of the feeling of bonding towards their partners. The second point is that more than the murders, it were the ghoulish acts that followed which shocked the people. In both cases, the offenders showed no feeling of repentance or shock for what they had done. I have come across such ghastly cases of crime in my long police career. The offenders in such cases first relish the crime they are committing and then try to justify their macabre actions," Kanojia said.
Senior counsel of the Calcutta High Court, Kaushik Gupta, told IANS that in both the cases, the focus had not been on the killing but the actions that followed.
"Take the case of the Delhi murder, the focus is on how the offender had chopped the body into 35 pieces and even stored them in a newly-purchased refrigerator. The punishment for murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code can be death penalty. However, the ghastly manner in which the killer hid the body pieces is dealt under Section 201 of IPC related to causing of disappearance of evidence of offence, which on its own, attracts a maximum imprisonment of 10 years," Gupta said.
"In the case of Anupam Sinha's murder, the focus had been more on how Manua cherished the dying shrieks of her husband over phone. Manua has been tried under Section 120B of IPC which 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 committed. But such actions cannot be really analysed through legal clauses," Gupta said.
According to Tirthankar Guha Thakurata, faculty at Kolkata-based KPC Medical College & Hospital, the crimes were prompted by some psychological disorder on the part of the offender, who preferred adopting the extreme path instead of engaging int dialogues.
Guha Thakurta said: "In case of the Delhi murder, the offender never gave a thought of engaging into dialogues with his partner regarding peaceful and respectable break-up, probably out of a fear of violent emotional outburst on her part. But that silly fear that prompted the offender to shy away from dialogue prompted him to adopt the extreme path and then resort to such macabre actions in hiding her body pieces. Had the offender thought of the ultimate consequences of such a ghastly act, I am sure he would have adopted the rational path of dialogues."
Similarly, in case of Manua, Guha Thakurta feels that her desire to hear the last shrieks of her dying husband was out of a morbid pleasure to enjoy a feeling of freedom from marriage and to start a new life with her paramour.
"In this case also, Manua could have engaged in a dialogue with her husband for a mutual, peaceful and respectable separation," Guha Thakurta added. (SJ/IANS)