Solved: Murder in business hub 16 years ago

03murderA 16-year-old murder mystery – that of a middle-aged Parsi woman shot dead on her way to work in Dalhousie – has been cracked after the arrest of the suspected killer, then a barely 16-year-old boy who had allegedly pulled the trigger for Rs 50,000.

Navaz Eruchshaw Wadia was walking down RN Mukherjee Road on June 29, 2001, when a scooter screeched to a halt beside her. A young man opened fire from point-blank range and the 52-year-old woman slumped to the ground. The office-hour crowd and the people manning the roadside eateries stood stunned, as Metro had reported in the next morning’s edition.

A possible money motive did emerge during the investigation but police couldn’t build on the case until December 2016, more than a decade and a half later.

On December 27, the alleged shooter, now 32, was arrested along with two others on charges of opening fire at a member of a rival gang of extortionists. Metro is withholding his name because he was a juvenile when he allegedly committed the murder for which he was wanted for 16 years.

Police sources said the accused was “a small-time extortionist” preying on businesses in the Park Circus area. It was while investigating the source of the gun with which he had allegedly shot at a rival gang that the police found the missing links in the murder that had shaken the city many winters ago.

The accused told the police that a man named Mohammad Mohid had supplied him the gun.

And how did he know Mohid? For many years, he said.

Multiple rounds of interrogation revealed that Mohid it was who allegedly hired him to kill Navaz.

Mohid’s wife Catherine Kindo used to be Navaz’s domestic help, and a trusted one at that. So trusted that the spinster had named Catherine as her life insurance nominee.

The police said today that it was for this Rs 2 lakh in insurance cash that Mohid, also much loved by Navaz, allegedly plotted the murder.

“We have arrested the mastermind,” said Debasmita Das, deputy commissioner of police in the eastern suburban division. “We cracked the murder while probing a shooting incident in Beniapukur on December 16, 2016.”

The shooter, the police said, had earned Rs 50,000 for pumping bullets into Navaz. He continued to operate in Calcutta undetected after the murder while Mohid shifted to Begusarai, in Bihar.

The police have yet to find any evidence to suspect Catherine’s involvement in the alleged murder plot.

Navaz had treated Catherine like her daughter and was also fond of her husband, who she had known as a footwear trader. What she would not have known, the police said, is that Mohid had allegedly always been an arms smuggler. He would procure guns from Bihar and sell them in Bengal.

On the day of the murder in 2001, neighbours had recounted to Metro how Catherine had pushed her way through the crowd along with someone else and “found” Navaz in a pool of blood. She and the other person, also a neighbour, took the Parsi lady to a nursing home in a police vehicle.

Navaz had lived all her life in an RN Mukherjee Road apartment leased to her father. She never married and had only a sister, who lived in a Park Street building.

Navaz was an executive in a multinational company with an office in Chowringhee. Every day, around the same time, she would leave the house, walk up to the RN Mukherjee Road-BBD Bag intersection and catch a bus to office.

“The shooter has admitted that he procured firearms from Mohid,” said an officer at Beniapukur police station.

Early this month, Beniapukur police had contacted the homicide wing of the detective department in Lalbazar because they had no details of Navaz’s murder. Officers from the homicide wing visited the police station and interrogated the accused.

The police arrested Mohid at the Park Street crossing a few days ago. A Sealdah court today remanded him in police custody till February 16.

Published on The Telegraph

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