In separate incidents that have created a sensation in Assam, bodies of two women were found in less than 24 hours from washrooms of different trains. In both cases, traditional towels — called “gamusa” in Assam —were found around the victim’s neck. Prima facie probe and marks on the victims’ neck have led the police to suspect that they were strangulated.
On Wednesday, a resident of Dibrugarh district, identified as Lalima Devi (48), was found dead in a washroom of Avadh Assam Express, which runs between Assam and Rajasthan. The body was discovered when the train reached Mariani station in Jorhat district around 2.20 pm.
On Tuesday, the body of Radha Kumari (21), of Sivasagar district, was found from the washroom of a local inter-city train at Simaluguri station, in Sivasagar district, around 9.40 am.
Additional DGP R P Meena, who is supervising the special investigation team formed to probe Tuesday’s murder, said, “We are trying to establish whether there is any connection between the two cases. The second incident has just happened. We need to investigate before making any comments on similarity or connection.”
The police are yet to get the postmortem reports.
Sanjive Roy, general manager of Northeast Frontier Railway, who spoke with the Assam DGP on the murders, said, “It is not clear how this happened. The police are investigating. We are cooperating with the police. It could be a lunatic on the loose…” Roy told The Indian Express in New Delhi. As a precautionary measure, the zonal railway has asked the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to request women passengers to not board SLR coaches.
From preliminary information available with police, Lalima Devi was scheduled to travel from Dibrugarh to Bihar and had boarded the train in the morning.
Radha Kumari, the police said, was a student of Assam Agriculture University in Jorhat and was on way to meet a relative in Golaghat. Her mother, Tara Devi, had reportedly seen her off at the station.
A senior RPF officer in Sivasagar said, “Radha Kumari was killed in a span of 20-25 minutes. She had boarded the train at Sivasagar and we found the body at Simaluguri station — the running time between the two stations is 20 minutes. The incident took place in that gap. Prima facie, it appears she was strangulated; we found a gamusa around her neck.”
“I saw her off at the station around 8.30 am. Later, I was informed from Simaluguri that my daughter is no more,” Radha’s mother Tara Devi told a local TV channel.
In a video grab being circulated on social media, she is seen saying, deliriously, “You had so many dreams…how did this happen…who killed you?”
Pallav Gopal Jha, Deputy Commissioner of Sivasagar district who met Radha’s family on Wednesday, said, “She came from a financially weak family, and her mother struggled a lot to raise the children. She was the eldest child. The government has sanctioned an amount of Rs 5 lakh.”