The Bhubaneswar-Cuttack police commissionerate has increased vigil and started sensitising late-night commuters, homeless people and slum-dwellers in Cuttack after three people were found murdered in the city within a span of 24 hours starting Tuesday morning, the police said.
The police said the three murders have some similarities, even as many local residents have started talking about a suspected serial killer.
“Prime facie, the injuries and circumstances signal a pattern,” Twin City Police Commissioner Satyajit Mohanty told The Indian Express on Friday.
Eight platoons and 50 officers, numbering up to 300, have started keeping vigil all night in the city.
A special police team, comprising two police inspectors and 11 constables, has been formed to identity and trace the killers, Cuttack DCP Akhileswar Singh was quoted by PTI.
The first murder was discovered on Tuesday morning near Cuttack’s iconic Hind Cinema. A day later, two more murders were reported — one from near the city’s government-run SCB Medical College, and another in OMP area.
The two victims so far identified — Godhi Kalia, who worked at a tea shop, and Panda, an odd jobs labourer — have no next of kin. The police are trying to ascertain the identity of the third victim.
Police Commissioner Mohanty said, “We gather this could be act of one person, as all incidents took place roughly between 3 am to 4 am. All victims were homeless people, poorest of the poor; they were asleep.”
“There are sharp cuts on the neck. The weapon seems to be the same, as per postmortem and forensic analyses,” he added.
There is no discernible motive, which makes the investigation difficult, Mohanty said. “Sometimes, when the motive is known, we can narrow down the chase even though the person is initially unknown,” he said. The police worry that there are not enough CCTVs to record footage of all localities in Cuttack.
A senior official in Cuttack District Administration said the police are combing the city to identify homeless people and get them to sleep in one area for easier surveillance.
“Cuttack has hundreds of slum-dwellers and there are no designated homeless shelters,” the official said.
Rumours are rife in the city. One such says that similar murders were reported last month in the port town of Paradeep, 60 km from Cuttack. Another says the victims’ faces were crushed with stones after their throats were slits.
The police said at this point in the investigation they have no reason to believe that the stories are credible.
Meanwhile, residents, especially from the poorer classes, are scared to walk alone at night, and are watching out.