OVER ONE-AND-A -HALF-YEARS after the murder of 23-year-old software engineer Antara Das, the police have made a submission in the court stating that charges against IT professional Santoshkumar Akhileshwarprasad Gupta (24), the only person arrested so far, should be dropped as there was no evidence against him. An employee of Capgemini, Das was attacked multiple times with a sharp weapon when she was walking through Canbay Square, near her workplace in Talawade, around 8.30 pm on December 23, 2016. A passerby, Satyendra Sinha (36) from Dapodi, who saw Das lying in a pool of blood, took her to a private hospital. Later, Sinha lodged a murder case at Dehu Road police station. On December 28, 2016, Gupta was arrested from Bengaluru. He was booked under sections 302 (murder), 120 (b) and 23 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
A native of 24 Parganas in West Bengal, Das had been to Bengaluru in 2015 for advanced technical training in software engineering. She met Gupta there. Antara came to Pune and joined Capgemini in April 2016. She used to stay as a paying guest in Nigdi Pradhikaran area. Das’s family had told the police that she was harassed by Gupta, due to which she had blocked his number on her phone. A probe revealed that Gupta was in Bengaluru on the day of the murder.
The police looked into the possibility of Gupta hiring someone to kill Das in Pune. But no evidence was found and no chargesheet was filed against him within the stipulated time of 90 days. A court released Gupta on bail in March 2017.
An officer from Pune Rural Police said: “As part of investigation, all possibilities had been probed. Even a cash prize of Rs 25,000 was announced. The investigating officers have found nothing concrete against Santoshkumar till now so, the application has been filed.”
Inspector Dayanand Gawade of the local Crime Branch of Pune Rural Police said: “The investigation will continue and any clue in future will be thoroughly probed. The cash prize announced in the past is still there. We make an appeal to the public again. If they have any information about the murder of Antara Das (they should inform us).” Advocate Rajendra Gade, Gupta’s lawyer in Vadgaon Maval court, said: “The Pune Rural Police have recently made a submission in the court under the Criminal Procedure Code, Section 169, stating that their investigation did not find sufficient evidence or reasonable grounds to continue with the prosecution. Now, the court has asked the family members of Antara Das to appear before it and put forward their opinion on the police application, because the arrest was made based on the allegations of the family.”
Gade added: “Police investigation found that at the time of the murder, Santoshkumar was in Bengaluru. Also, the last communication between the two (him and Antara) was at least six to seven months before the murder. His previous call records and his location did not lead the police to any concrete clue about the murder. Although this is like a clean chit to Santoshkumar, the court’s decision would be final.” Das’s father Debananda Das said: “We have not received any information from the police about the submission made in court regarding Santoshkumar. There has been no update from the police about any developments in the case. I am suffering from health problems… The question who killed Antara remains unanswered.”