Media Coverage

Arrest Papiya’s Killers : AIPWA


All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) activists staged a Dharna in front of the State Assembly on Tuesday demanding the arrest of killers of Prof Papiya Ghosh. They also sought an end to oppression of women.

Referring to the directionless, investigation into the case, AIPWA National Secretary, Meena Tiwari said, “Till now, police have no clue about the murderers. This expresses the Government’s inefficiency. Crime against women is on the rise and the Government is unable to catch the criminals”. Prof Bharti S Kumar, AIPWA leader and a member of Patna University Senate said, “Silence of the Government on the whole matter indicates that criminals are enjoying Government protection”.

AIPWA President, Saroj Choubey said women would never tolerate violence under any regime. Deputy leader of CPI (ML) Legislature Party, Amarnath Yadav and MLA, Nand Kumar Nanda assured that they would continue fighting within and outside the Assembly seeking justice for Prof Ghosh.

Economist, Meena Dutt, AISA leaders, Abhyuday and Mohammad Musharaff, AIPWA leaders Shashi Yadav, Anita Sinha, Prof Meera Thakur and Indu Kumari, besides others took part in the Dharna.

Meanwhile, students under the banner of Chatra RJD (CJD) on Tuesday lit candles and offered prayers at the Catholic Church on Ashok Rajpath for the peace of the soul of Prof. Ghosh.

SEEKING A CBI inquiry into the murder of Prof Ghosh, CPI (ML) Liberation General Secretary, Dipankar Bhattacharya, claimed that the Patna Police had failed to make any breakthrough in the case even after 10 days of the incident.

He regretted that there was not even a modicum of security in Patna, let alone rural areas. Lamenting that the NDA Government had so far, displayed a ‘damn care attitude’ towards Papiya’s case, he demanded that the probe be handed over to CBI.

Media Coverage

Same Night, 50 Years Later : when Muder Revisited Historian’s Home


History is a word that hangs over the residence of Patna University Professor, Papiya Ghosh like an old curse.

She used to teach the subject and a book on Partition, authored by her, was slated for a January release. In all, a serene academic life that seemed to hold nothing that could have provoked her brutal murder last fortnight.

Eight stab wounds, eyes gouged-out, a burgled house.

On the surface, the sort of violent crime that chooses its victims at random, save for the usual criterion: she was a 53-year-old woman, well off and living alone.

But scattered in the debris of Papiya’s life are strange clues that point back in time. To a personal history almost as old as the subject of her book.

She was killed on the same day her father, Bihar bureaucrat Ujjal Kumar Ghosh, was killed nearly 50 years ago.

Was it just an uncanny coincidence, or is there a connection to that older, as-yet “unsolved murder”. An old enmity that still lingers? How come no one , not even those manning the police station 500 yards away from her house, heard a sound that night? And why did her dogs — the two fiercely protective Pomeranians — not bark? There was no sign of a forced entry, so was it someone she knew?

The other facts too don’t add up. If it was a simple burglary gone wrong, why the brutality-the multiple stabs, the gouging out of the eyes, other stray signs of sadism? If it was a land shark getting rid of a feisty, middle-aged academician to grab her prime property, why was the house cleaned out-down to the gas cylinder? How was all the loot carried-it could not have fitted into the small Maruti 800 which, too, was taken away from the garage?

Even the hard disk containing the last two volumes of her yet-to-be published work are missing. The questions are swirling around in the isolated bungalow No. 168 in Patna’s posh Pataliputra Colony where she lived with her elderly maid Malti Devi, who too was killed. (The maid’s two grandsons, who lived in the same house, were away that night.) Now, a week or so after that gruesome wintry night, it is being talked about as a “dead-end” case.

On January 1, 2007, when Routledge releases Papiya’s book Partition and The South Asian Diaspora _ Extending the Subcontinent’ at IIC, sister Tuktuk Ghosh wants to keep the occasion quiet. For Tuktuk, a senior West Bengal cadre IAS officer, it is a double burden: the burden of being part of the ‘system’ and being patient enough to leave it to its meandering ways.

Tuktuk, visibly shattered, recounts the facts. Matched with other versions, including that of Patna police, here’s the gist: it was on early December 3, when the morning house help came around, that Papiya and her 70-year old maid’s bodies were discovered. It was not a sight anyone would ever want to confront. From head to toe, every part of Papiya’s body had been pierced-with a kitchen knife picked from the house itself Malti Devi was not spared either-four stab wounds, the same heart-stopping brutality. The stamp of extreme hatred and vengeance was all over the dead bodies, says Bihar’s home secretary Afzal Amanullah, who is Papiya’s neighbour.

Tuktuk, who rushed from Delhi, confirmed that Papya’s belongings were missing. Washing machine, gas cylinder, Maruti 800, music system, computer, watches, camera, whatever gold and money there was in the house. Only those cupboards and heavy wood almirahs which had valuables were opened and ransacked. Others were untouched.

Though wary of rubbing the investigative agency the wrong way, Tuktuk offers tentatively, “Burglary could just have been a front¿ She always made it clear that she would never move out of that property. It was to look after my mother and the house she had built that Papiya left a job in Delhi University and shifted to Patna. She could have had a job anywhere in the world, she had earned that kind of respect from her fraternity.”

Tuktuk refuses to accept that it was a “motiveless murder”. “A super-intelligent mastermind seems to be at work, unleashing the worst form of savagery. The wounds were vicious” she almost shivers as she talks.

What could be the reason behind “the barbarity, the butchering”, adjectives spill out of Tuktuk. As she lets them go, she almost clutches back at them, quietly angry but unsure of opening out fully. “Her last moments must have been very painful”. Even the nails were plucked out. “What could be the motive, it cannot be a senseless crime” her voice trails off.

Steadying herself, Tuktuk-commonly thought of as Papiya’s twin since the time they wrote articles in Junior Statesman-shares the personal history she’s never uttered in the last 50 years: “To me, it seems quite utterly uncanny, it was the same date-the night of December 2/3. My father was administered poison by a hospital nurse at the Patna Government hospital at someone’s bidding. Then too, the mastermind was never caught.”

It was their mother who brought up them up (in all, four sisters) and built the house with its sprawling garden. An exclusive enclave meant for senior officials, the Government had given them the land after the father’s mysterious death. In fact, say officials familiar with the old case, the Patna District Magistrate was appointed their local guardian.

With Tuktuk approaching the Prime Minister and President and Papiya’s well-known academic friends from across the globe writing to the PM and CM Nitish Kumar, the Patna police is understandably under pressure. Amanullah says, “We hope to crack the case in two three days. It is a difficult witness-less case, no one is coming forward to help or cooperate. But there are certain strong leads. If the trail goes cold, we’ll call in the CBI.”

Media Coverage

Papiya’s Crime


For what crime was Papiya Ghosh punished on December 3, when she was brutally killed at her residence, in an upmarket locality of Patna? Early newspaper reports hinted at her class advantage. But the extremity of the violence scripted on her body suggests a deeper rage directed against her — a woman who dared to have not only a computer and a car but also a life without any father, husband, son or a shadowy brother figure in the background.

A self-respecting scholar, Papiya Ghosh at 53, remained stubbornly single and singular, qualities disdained by Indians, particularly for their women. Rejecting our (her colleagues at Hindu College, Delhi) advice, she chose at a critical point in her early career to return to Patna and teach and work amidst the migrating (escaping?) Bihari population. And look what happened to her — the cost of rejecting the usual middle-class trajectories, which only reward upward mobility, appears to have been very heavy for this brave and generous woman.

In a disfigurement reserved only for tribal witches in the anthropological literature, Papiya was disembowelled, her eyes gouged out, her body skewered and pierced. It needed Papiya’s sister’s shuddering testimony on TV, more than a week after the event, to inform us of these brute facts. Even Manu, the ancient law-giver, who justifies prohibition on all manner of pratiloma or moving against the grain for women, including the single existence, would have squirmed at such a vindication.

Conservative lessons, on confining women, are being drawn from the atrocious facts of her death. Those responsible must, however, not be allowed to temper public outrage with fear. Manu’s diktat should be turned on its head. If, as he argues, the burden of feminine transgression falls on the collective, then in Ambedkar’s India, the justice system must work hard to protect women as citizens, not just family members. At present, the entirely retrograde though unvoiced lesson being drawn from her murder is that a woman needs a man, more than her skill and talent, to survive in India.

Not only that, she needs a home, not a house, certainly not prime real estate which she may shockingly leave as she “wills” to the good causes of the world. Before being done away with, Papiya had already demonstrated such unacceptable tendencies by gifting away some of her inheritance to the public in Bihar.

The question of who murdered Papiya — robbers, property dealers or political enemies within and outside the family — is under investigation. As details are squeezed out of a reluctant Patna administration, it is important to ensure that the exercise is fair, free and competent. Her death has an emblematic character because its underlying causes will fuel more such crimes, even after this particular case is closed.

One of her grieving students remarked on TV: “I know she would have been alive and teaching today elsewhere, if she had not come back to Bihar”. However, we would be deceiving ourselves if we blame Papiya’s end solely on the sorry state of things in Bihar.

It is India as a whole, despite its phallic growth rate, which is proving an unattractive proposition to return to. Unlike in China, not many NRIs/PIOs invest in their home country. Why? Indeed, in Incredible India, there is no myth of the return of the prodigal son, and certainly not of the daughter, from the marital home.

For the Bihari migrant labourer in Punjab, ‘gap year’ student in Delhi University’s BA programme and IAS aspirant in a JNU hostel, Papiya’s indifference to self-improvement in the accepted way would amount to class betrayal.

An apparent negligence that can never authentically be condoned, never mind the candles being lit publicly and the e-mail signature campaigns in circulation.

An authentic whistle-blower to tradition and its inherent anti-democratic intention, the single woman remains a soft target for enemies of the Constitution.

This is easy enough for all of us to accept at a broad level. But the vulnerability of Papiya Ghosh’s of the world to their own modernity is harder to accept, explain and rectify.

Media Coverage

Justice To Papiya: Researchers Launch E-mail Campaign


Researchers across the globe, associated with South-Asian studies, have launched an e-mail campaign over the murder of Papiya Ghosh — Professor of History at Patna University.

While expressing anguish over her brutal murder, academicians and friends of Ghosh, spread across many countries are trying to put pressure on the Nitish Kumar Government to book the culprits. It’s nearing two weeks now since the murder took place and the Police remain clueless with not a single arrest.

Shankar Dutta, Professor of English at Patna University, said that Ghosh was an active member of a broad group of academicians associated with South-Asian Studies and all of them want justice. He felt that Ghosh’s murder has undermined the confidence of the global community in Bihar. Purnendu Mukherjee, coordinator of the All India Bengali Association also confirmed the e-mail campaign and said letters to the PM and the President were also being sent.

This murder case has extended the severest jolt to all the brand building efforts for a resurgent Bihar, being undertaken by the Nitish Government. Even the PM had called Nitish expressing concern over the murder. The jolt comes particularly because the Police have failed so far to achieve any breakthrough in the case. It has not even been able to recover the Ghosh’s car and other valuables stolen after the murder.

Though the Police claim to be investigating the case, it is primarily treating the case as a murder for robbery.

Media Coverage

Papiya Four Snapped Up


“As of now, robbery alone seems to be the motive behind the murder of Patna University Historian Papiya Ghosh,” Director-General of Police A.R. Sinha said.

The four arrested were Shankar Sau, 22, a part-time driver with a Don Bosco school teacher; A.K. Roy, 19, a jobless youth from Chhapra who worked in a rolling mill here before taking to petty thefts; A.K. Urao, 19, a newspaper hawker; and Manohar Kumar Thakur, who recently quit working at a rolling mill. None has a murder charge against him.

Most of the loot, including a Maruti car found in a dilapidated garage, a TV set and a computer, has been recovered from different places in Patna. None of it had been sold.

DGP Sinha said the main gate of the Historian’s house was “ajar” when the gang “sneaked in” around 9 pm. They probably knew her daily routine well to strike at that hour. The main conspirator, who “would have provided information” about Ghosh’s routine, is still at large.

The DGP, who announced a Rs.50,000 reward to the Police team, asked the media to “stop” thinking of “various angles” and trust the Police.

But Ghosh’s friends are not “convinced”. Prof. S.K. Singh, also a resident of Pataliputra Colony, said “the small gang must have been used just as a pawn by powerful people”.

Maya Shankar, a friend, said: “It is difficult to digest that Papiya was killed just for resisting a robbery.”

Saibal Dasgupta, a sociologist, said with property rates as high as they are in Pataliputra Colony, the robbery motive was “just too simplistic.”

Media Coverage

Success Brings Relief, Doubts Remain


The arrest of the criminals involved in the killing of Patna University (PU) Professor Papiya Ghosh, and her elderly maid, and the recovery of articles that were looted by the killers, has brought a sigh of relief to the teaching fraternity of Patna University (PU) and Magadh University. The Teachers are all praise for the role of the Patna Police in nabbing a number of those involved in the murder but also want the Police to take the case to its logical conclusion.

Dr U K Sinha, Patna University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) President- thanked the Chancellor and the Chief Minister for mobilizing the Police and Administration in this regard. PUTA General Secretary, Dr. Randhir Kumar Singh, however, urged the Police to take the case to its logical conclusion. He also urged the University Administration to institute a Chair named after Papiya, in tribute to her brilliance as a historian.

President of the Magadh University Teachers’ Association (MUTA) Dr Avnindra Kumar Singh Thakur, said that the arrest of a number of those involved in the double murders and recovery of the looted property belonging of Papiya should not be taken to be the end of the matter. The police should unravel the conspiracy behind Papiya’s murder and find out who plotted the gruesome killing. MUTA General Secretary Dr Vibhuti Kumar added that the State Government must ensure safety of life and property to Teachers, as every such incident weakened the morale of the teaching fraternity.

Dr Nihar Nandan Prasad Singh, Head of Patna University’s History Department and former Vice Chancellor of Bihar University, was not satisfied with the latest development in the investigation of Prof Papiya Ghosh and her elderly maid. He said the police had not yet, unveiled the conspiracy behind the murders. He, however, said the Departmental Council had resolved to rename the History Seminar Hall after Papiya. A few days back, the Patna Police had taken into its possession the books and magazines that lay in Papiya’s cupboard at the History Department, he said.

Dr Daisy Narain, another senior Teacher of Patna University did not see the arrest of some suspects as a major breakthrough. She said it was too early to say anything with finality. The Police should trace the mastermind behind the murders besides booking the persons who actually executed the heinous crime, she said.

Dr Dilip Kumar Sinha, President, Bihar Bengalee Association, said, “The Police claim that Papiya was killed by burglars while committing theft in her house does not sound convincing at all. No sensible person can accept this theory. There are lots of contradictions. Like, why for all reasons did the burglars take another vehicle to her house to commit the crime and also took away the victims car? If the Police claims are true, I feel we should be proud that burglars in the state have really improved. I also wonder, why the Police took so much time to catch simple burglars.

Obviously, we will continue our agitation for the real truth to come out. We will also have to wait for the arrested persons to reveal more facts. But, I feel all educated persons in the State share a feeling that Papiya’s murder was not for all such simple reasons.”

Media Coverage

‘Scuffle Led To Papiya Killing’


Little did slain PU Professor Papiya Ghosh know that her own kitchen knife would one day end her life. On the fateful night, Papiya’s septuagenarian maid Malti had herself handed over the knife to the Professor to take on the intruders.

Fate, apparently, had some portentous design in store. One of the intruders snatched the long blade from Papiya’s hand and brutally stabbed her and her maid for resisting the loot bid, a Police Officer said.

After a marathon interrogation of the four criminals arrested in Papiya murder case, police have ascertained that Shankar Sao, the driver of a schoolteacher, had, in fact, inflicted stab injuries to Papiya and Malti, which caused their death.

“When we intruded into her house on December 2 around 9.30 pm, Papiya started screaming for help. When I asked for money, she not only posed a stiff resistance, but also scuffled with me. In the meantime, the maid appeared with a knife and handed it over to the Professor to take us on,” Shankar told the interrogators. “In fact, we had no option other than pinning her (Papiya) down and finishing her off,” he said.

The Police confirmed that Shankar’s injury in one of his arms, which he received during his scuffle with Papiya, corroborated his statement. Shankar had got his injured arm bandaged in a private nursing home later, they added.

Police sources said that after eliminating Papiya and her maid, Shankar and his accomplices stashed Papiya’s car parked on the rear side of the house with the looted articles and dumped them at their hideout in Kurji. In fact, the criminals had to make two trips to ferry the looted articles, a Police Officer said.

According to the Police, Shankar played the lead role and was assisted by his accomplices Ashish Kumar Rai, Anil Kumar Oraon and Manohar Thakur.

The Police said that apart from the four arrested persons, two more persons had intruded into the house. The police are on the lookout of the duo, who seem to be absconding. Meanwhile, all the looted articles as mentioned in the FIR have been recovered.

Ironically, the Police have not yet identified the criminal, who had made threatening calls to Papiya’s Delhi-based publisher and dared IG (Patna zone) Rajvardhan Sharma to catch him if he could.

“The caller is one among the four arrested persons. But we will have to conduct a voice test to identify him,” the IG told TOI.

Meanwhile, the Police have arrested an Ashiananagar-based advocate, Ramchandra Mahto, under Section 412 of the IPC (possessing articles looted in dacoity). A washing machine looted from Papiya’s house was recovered from Mahto’s house, a police officer said.

Media Coverage

Government To Seek Death Penalties For Professor’s Killing


Because of the brutal nature of the crime, the State Government will appeal to the Court to award death sentences to the killers of Patna University History Professor Papiya Ghosh, Home Secretary, Afzal Amanullah, said in Patna on Sunday.

“This was a pre-meditated murder committed in cold blood and the Government will ask the court to deliver capital punishment to all those involved in this heinous crime,” the Home Secretary said.

Meanwhile, the Police revealed more information related with the case that not only shocked Bihar but had widespread coverage in other States as well.

“Besides making threatening calls, the criminals also sent us a letter from Muzaffarpur,” the Police said.

Scattered with expletives, the criminals mocked the police for putting up ‘only’ Rs. 50,000 as reward money for their capture.

“No one will come forward for a meager amount like Rs. 50,000. You should have announced a reward of at least Rs. 1 lakh if you want someone to give you some leads,” the letter read.

“This was an attempt to throw us off track and so we concentrated on phone calls made by criminals using Dr. Ghosh’s stolen mobile,” Buddha Colony Police Station In-Charge K. K. Singh said.

Meanwhile, the Police have taken a Patna lawyer into custody after one of the criminals admitted ‘gifting’ the washing machine stolen from Dr. Ghosh’s house to his lawyer to keep him in good humor, sources said.

Media Coverage

Death to one, life term for 3 in Prof Papiya Ghosh murder case

19 Sep 2008, The Newswire, Outlook India Magazine

Patna, September 19 (PTI) A trial court has handed down the death sentence to Shankar Sao, one of the four held guilty for the murder of Patna professor Papiya Ghosh and her servant in 2006. Three others, Manohar Kumar, Ashish Kumar and Anil Oraon, have been given a life term in jail. Advocate Ramchandra Mahto has been given 2 years in jail for assisting in concealment of stolen property.
On Thursday, the trial court had convicted five of the seven accused in the murder case.

The cold-blooded killings in December 2006 spawned nationwide hue and cry with intellectuals from across the country and abroad alleging involvement of land sharks in the crime. Daughter of late IAS officer Ujjwal Kumar Ghosh, Papiya was single and was living in her father’s sprawling house in the posh Patliputra Colony. While two of her sisters are settled abroad, the third, an IAS officer, is OSD to the Lok Sabha Speaker.

The prosecution could present it as a case of murder during dacoity. While four accused – Shankar Sao, Manohar Kumar, Ashish Kumar and Anil Oraon – were held guilty under Sections 396 (dacoity with murder) and 412 (recovery of dacoity goods from someone’s possession), the fifth accused, lawyer Ramchandra Mahto was held guilty under Section 414 (assisting in concealment of stolen property) of the IPC.

The judgment was delivered by additional session judge of the fast track court, Om Prakash. The two other accused in the case – Sanyog Rai and Mohammed Mushtaquim – have been declared absconders.

According to the prosecution, the Patna University’s history professor and her domestic help Malti were stabbed to death on the night of December 2, 2006 when they resisted some of the accused who had barged into her residence with an intention to commit dacoity. The criminals later decamped with valuables and a Maruti car.

Media Coverage

Papiya murder accused arrested in Ludhiana

Sayantanee Choudhury / TNN | Sep 22, 2012,

PATNA: Patna police on Tuesday finally arrested Sanyog Rai, the last accused in Prof Papiya Ghosh murder case on the run, from Ludhiana district in Punjab.

Patna SSP Amrit Raj said Prof Ghosh and her domestic help Malti Devi were murdered on the night of December 3, 2006, during a dacoity at her residence in Patliputra Colony. The SSP said, “Earlier, police had arrested six other accused and the last accused, Rai was absconding. He had changed his name to Sunny and was staying at a hideout in Ludhiana.”

The assailants had stabbed to death the 53-year-old Patna University history teacher and her 70-year-old maid Malti Devi for resisting their robbery attempt, and decamped with her valuable items.

Sanyog Rai has since been brought here. He was presented before a local court on Friday, which remanded him to 14-day judicial custody and forwarded to Beur central jail.

This success for Patna police came almost a month after the sixth accused, Mohd Mustakim, was arrested on August 16 from Seraikela district in Jharkhand.

Trial of five accused in the case was completed sometime back and they were given varying sentences. One of the five accused, advocate Ramchandra Mahto has been pronounced guilty under Section 414 (assisting in concealment of stolen property) of the IPC. A washing machine looted from Papiya’s house was recovered from Mahto’s house. The other four – Anil Oraon (a daily wage worker), Manohar Kumar Thakur (a former rolling mill worker), Shanker Sah (a part-time driver with a local schoolteacher) and Ashish Kumar Rai (a jobless youth from Chhapra) – were pronounced guilty for robbery with murder.

The police had produced 30 witnesses in the court of fast-track judge Omprakash. Shankar Sah, the driver of a schoolteacher, according to police, was the main conspirator who got together others for the crime. In fact, it was he who had inflicted fatal stab injuries on Papiya and Malti. The SSP said Sah had confessed having killed Papiya and Malti Devi. “In fact, the maid had handed over a kitchen knife to the professor to take on us. Then we killed her,” Shankar had told the interrogators.

The murder had sent shock waves across the state. After initial delay in cracking the case, the police had recovered most of the looted articles, including a Maruti car which was recovered from a dilapidated garage, a TV set and a computer from different places in Patna.