TIMES OF INDIA
AGARTALA: After the gruesome murder of a housewife, Ashalata Das alias Soma, in Kanchanpalli on the outskirts of Agartala recently, names of some ONGC officials have come up for investigation for their alleged involvement with her. This is the first time that allegations are being made at this corporate body, which has been functioning here since 1970.
Ashalata’s body was found in a field on October 17 and police arrested her husband Sanjib, a tailor, her sister-in-law Jhuma, mother-in-law Chanubala and father-in-law Premananda Das for their alleged involvement in the crime. Hundreds of angry neighbours attempted to set their house on fire but police intervention at the right moment saved them.
It was alleged that Jhuma, who worked as a helping hand in the quarters of some of the ONGC officials, had illicit relationships with them. Some of the officials would visit her house at night regularly and spend time with her. It is believed they offered her large sums of money among other things. Neighbours identified at least three ONGC officials as “regular visitors” to the house though their names were not formally given to the police. Neighbours suspect that Jhuma perhaps tried to get Ashalata to entertain the ONGC officials who visited here and when she refused, she was murdered. It is not clear if Ashalata was forced to join the racket, but neighbours confirmed that she was subjected to regular torture by her in-laws.
A three-member delegation of the visiting Tripura Women’s Commission, led by chairperson Tapati Chakraborty, is also probing the murder. The team was here on October 18. “Many of the ONGC officials were reported to visit Jhuma’s house at night,” said Siuli Debbarma, vice-chairperson, adding, “neighbours claimed that on the night of the murder they had seen some of the vehicles ONGC officials used to travel in, parked outside Jhuma’s house.”
The commission delegation also met the DGP in-charge, Kishore Jha, and sought a thorough investigation into the case and stringent action against the culprits. DIG range Puneet Rastogi visited the spot and reviewed the investigation. When asked if Ashalata was raped before she was murdered as reported, Debaprasad Roy, officer-in-charge of Amtali Police station, said, “The rape is not yet confirmed as the medical report has not reached us.”
However, a doctor involved in the post-mortem, speaking on condition of anonymity said Ashalata had not been raped.