The body of a middle-aged woman, working as a caretaker at an NGO for the welfare of sex workers, was recovered from the third floor of a building in north Kolkata Wednesday. She was in charge of two 15-year-old girls who had been recently rescued, and are now missing.
Kabita Roy (58) was found dead in a pool of blood with a gamcha (handloom towel) tied around her neck, and head bludgeoned with a blunt object in a building housing the Durbar Mathila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) at Nilmoni Mitra Street, Bartola police station limits, police said.
Kabita used to stay in one of the rooms of the building. On Wednesday morning, DMSC members had come to meet Roy, and when she didn’t respond to calls, they went inside the room and found her lying on the floor. DMSC members said the two girls, who had been rescued on October 31, had fled too. The girls, hailing from Bongaon in North-24 Parganas, had been rescued from Bowbazar.
“They were being counselled, and with the help of the Child Welfare Committee and the police, they were supposed to be returned to their house today itself. During counselling, they said both of them had lovers who brought them to Kolkata,” said a senior DMSC member.
Officials from Bortola police station and the homicide department have started their investigation.
In their complaint, NGO officials said that other than the girls, some valuables and cash were also missing. Police said it looked like those who killed Roy had taken the cash and valuables, adding that they were also probing the possibility of women trafficking.
Sniffer dogs were brought to the scene and a police officer said: “The preliminary postmortem report has arrived, and it showed that there was a lacerated wound on the deceased along with strangulation marks on her neck. It looks like she was hit with a blunt object on her head, and later strangled to ensure death. A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been started…A few people from the area have been detained for questioning.”
CCTV cameras at the entrance of the building were found to be defunct. When asked why the police had not been informed about the rescued girls on October 31 itself, a DMSC member said it was nothing new.
“We have rescued about 1,200 such girls so far, and since it was a holiday, we thought we will seek police help today to help the girls return to their homes,” the member said.
DC North Subhankar Singh Sarkar, who visited the spot, said Roy had been there for the last 15-20 years.
“We have found a mortar and pestle near her body, but it is yet to be established if that was used for the murder,” he said. Roy, who was a sex worker initially, had joined the NGO in 1995. She was the president of the NGO for a few years before she stepped down and worked as the caretaker, looking after rescued girls. It was found that the two boys who had brought the girls here had fled the scene when the NGO rescued them.