Bengal's superstitious serial ‘chain’ killer sentenced to death

Sarkar has been charged in 15 cases—two rape, seven murder and six attempt to murder

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A man, accused in a series of murders and sexual assaults on women, was sentenced to death by a local court for the rape and killing of a schoolgirl in West Bengal's Purba Bardhaman district. Kamaruzzaman Sarkar, who gained notoriety as a serial "chain" killer for strangling his victims with bicycle chains, was sentenced to be hanged to death by the additional district and sessions judge Tapan Kumar Mondal of Kalna court after being found guilty of the rape and murder of the girl.

Sarkar, a small-time trader of discarded materials, is being tried in other courts for alleged sexual assault and murder of at least five other women and murderous attacks on at least three other women in Purba Bardhaman and neighbouring Hooghly districts. The victims were aged between 16 and 75 years. All the crimes took place between 2013 and 2019 till he was arrested.

“The court observed that it was one of the rarest of the rare cases. I stressed on maximum punishment as the man had hit the minor helpless girl on her forehead and then tried to strangulate her and raped her. Nothing can be more heinous than this,” said Soumyajit Raha, special public prosecutor of the case.

Following the order on Monday, Sarkar's lawyer said that an appeal will be filed before the Calcutta High Court, challenging the conviction and sentence.

The alleged serial killer who targeted women when they were alone at home, was arrested in the town of Kalna in Purba Bardhaman district in June last year. The 42-year-old, attired in trendy clothes, would allegedly enter homes during afternoon hours on the pretext of taking electricity meter readings and then pounce upon the women with a cycle chain and an iron rod, according to the prosecution.

Some women had managed to escape attacks by the diminutive man, whose modus operandi was to strangulate them with a chain and then hit them on the head to ensure death.

Though he would escape with some valuables from the houses of his victims, theft does not seem to be the motive. Murdering the women seemed to be his main target, according to district police sources. Police said that Sarkar, married with three children, had even allegedly inserted sharp materials into the genitals of some of his victims following their deaths.

Interrogation had revealed that Sarkar’s downfall was brought on by his superstition. Police said his astrologer had told him that red was his lucky colour, so he had stuck to a red motorbike and red helmet even after some of his targets escaped alive.

Following the murder of a middle-aged woman, the district police had circulated CCTV footage of a suspect wearing a red helmet and riding a red motorbike to all police stations, following which he was apprehended at a check-point.

Sarkar is suspected to have killed a woman of Anukhal area on January 27 last year, police said. On April 4, 2019, two women were killed within a few hours of each other in the Memari police station area of Purba Bardhaman. 

Another woman of Memari was also killed in the same manner, the police said.

Swarupa Bibi of Rongpara here was one of the lucky few to have escaped a similar attack. She was allegedly attacked from behind with a cycle chain, but she managed to shrug off the attacker and raise an alarm. 

(With PTI inputs)