Arun Kumar & Avinash Kumar,
3 December 2006, Hindustan Times, Patna
Patna University Professor and eminent historian Papiya Ghosh was stabbed to death along with her elderly maid, Malti, at her sprawling Patliputra Colony residence last night in course of robbery. After killing both the women, the anti socials decamped with valuables in her Maruti car.
Papiya and her maid were cremated in the afternoon after the arrival of her sister, Tuktuk Ghosh, a West Bengal cadre IAS officer. She is currently posted as Principal Secretary to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. Papiya, a spinster, was the third among four sisters. Two of her sisters live abroad.
The incident took place barely 100 meters from the residence of Home Secretary Afzal Amanullah and the Patliputra Police Station, alongside the busy main road. It came to light on Sunday morning when Gita, the maid of a neighbour NK Prasad (retired IAS officer), went there.
When the door did not open despite persistent knocking, the maid informed Prasad. His daughter-in-law went there to inquire why the door was still shut. When nobody responded from inside, she pushed the door, which opened as it was not bolted from inside. As she went inside, she found Papiya and Malti lying dead in a pool of blood. The entire house bore tell-tale signs of having been ransacked. Almirahs were open and the electronic gadgets missing. Even the air-conditioner had been taken away. The police was immediately informed about the twin murders. Prasad said he called Patna Zone IG Rajyavardhan Sharma who had studied with Papiya.
By then, it was too late. A huge crowd collected at her residence as soon as the news spread. Incidentally, it was around the same time Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was distributing prizes to policeman, including Patna SSP, for meritorious service at the CID Function.
Sharma said that primefacie it appeared to be a case of robbery during which the Professor and her maid were killed as they might have resisted the dacoits. Locals, however, believed it to be the handiwork of musclemen who had their eyes on her property. She had reportedly received threats earlier also.
The Police are yet to achieve and breakthrough in the case. Papiya’s father UK Ghosh, a former IAS officer, was also killed under mysterious circumstances in early 1950s.
“She was living alone. There was just her maid around and the anti-socials might have been aware of it,” he said, adding, the Police had collected finger-prints and pressed sniffer dogs into service to gather clues. “We are looking at the case from all possible angles,” he added.
According to neighbours, there was a burglary attempt at Papiya’s residence a couple of years ago. They said that since Papiya lived alone, she did not want to rent her house to anybody.