Kolkata: Firefighters were in for a shock on Friday when they discovered a 57-year-old woman, covered in soot and kerosene, watching television while the charred body of her husband lay in the other room, in Kolkata's Manicktala government colony.
Sutapa Barat (56), the wife of the deceased, Ranjit Kumar Barat (63), a retired official of CESC, has been detained by the police for questioning after she claimed she had no inkling about what happened to her husband in the next room because she was glued to the TV set. The couple’s neighbours, however, accused her of burning her husband to death.
The firefighters were called in by the society residents after they saw thick smoked billowing out of the house.
There were no calls for help from the house, nor did anyone respond to the neighbours shouts.
The body was sent for post-mortem at R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital. Joint commissioner of police (crime) Vishal Garg said the couple’s daughter, who works in Mumbai, was informed.
According to the couple’s neighbours, when they asked Sutapa soon after the incident about how her husband was charred to death, she claimed that he had committed suicide by setting himself on fire with kerosene and matchsticks in his room while she was watching TV in another.
“She lied to us. There was a scuffle between her and her husband. Later, she set him on fire,” they said, adding that the domestic quarrel was a regular affair in the couple’s flat. Sources revealed that Sutapa repeated the same claim to the police during her questioning.
Making the matters murkier, at least three neighbours reported to the police that Sutapa had warned that such an incident was impending and waiting to happen.
In a further twist in the tale, the Maruti car used by the deceased had a police sticker pasted on its windscreen, and a wireless set and two helmets were also found in the vehicle.