What happened? The story behind double murder that shook Assam

The murders came to light after Guwahati police cracked the case and arrested the key accused, 32-year-old Bandana Kalita

Guwahati, double murder, Bandana Kalita, Assam, gruesome murder, Meghalaya,
The two murders were committed at different flats and over a period of one month. Image: iStock

A gruesome double murder mimicking the Shraddha Walkar murder case has come to light in Guwahati. A woman allegedly first killed her mother-in-law and then her husband, chopped the bodies, and disposed of them in different locations with the help of accomplices.

The murders, committed one each on July 26 and August 17 last year, came to light only on February 19, after the Guwahati city police cracked the case and arrested the key accused, 32-year-old Bandana Kalita, along with two of her accomplices.

While the gruesome twin murder has shocked the nation, what is intriguing is the timeline of events. Between the first murder and the arrest of the suspect there was a gap of seven months. 


Prime suspects

Bandana is a gym trainer, currently employed with Pump Muscle Gym at Bonda, near Guwahati. The two co-accused have been identified as Dhanti Deka and Arup Deka.

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Dhanti Deka (32) is from Kenduguri in Jorhat and is a tourist cab driver, while Arup Deka (27) is from Khanapara in Guwahati and is a vegetable seller who has also worked in a coal mine in Meghalaya. Arup got married just two days before his arrest; his reception was on Tuesday (February 21).

While Bandana is very close to both Dhanti and Arup, the exact nature of their relationships is not clear yet, according to police.

Gruesome killing and disposal 

The first killing reportedly took place at around 5 pm on July 26, 2022. Bandana entered flat No 6 of Jogamaya Enclave in Guwahati’s Tiniali locality, and allegedly used a pillow to smother her mother-in-law Sankari Dey (62), a retired employee of Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd,  while Arup held her legs.

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Bandana then reportedly put a belna (rolling pin) under Sankari’s head and cut her head off using a dao (a sharp instrument). Arup then allegedly cut off her hands. The body was then allegedly chopped into three pieces. The second accomplice, Dhonti, brought polythene to wrap the body. 

The next morning (July 27) at around 3 am, the three of them allegedly left for Meghalaya in Dhonti’s Hyundai Accent. At 10 am, the body parts were wrapped in a blanket and some plastic sheets and thrown into a deep gorge at Alieangriat village under the jurisdiction of Sohra police station. The victim’s head, one hand, one dao and the belna were also disposed of at different locations.

Husband’s murder

In the second incident, which took place on August 17, Bandana allegedly killed her husband Amarjyoti Dey when he was at their residence — Flat No 11 of Amrawati Apartments at Guwahati’s Narengi locality. She reportedly attacked him with an iron rod, killed him and, with the help of Dhonti and Arup, chopped his body into five pieces.

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The next day, they went to Dawki Road in Meghalaya in Dhonti’s car and reportedly disposed of the body parts wrapped in two plastic sheets.

Intriguing chronology

What the police found intriguing is that during the 22 days from July 26, when Sankari was killed,  to August 17, when Amarjyoti was killed,  nobody from the family came to Sankari’s flat looking for her. 

However, Shankari’s neighbours had an explanation — they were told she was staying at her son’s place. “Bandana Kalita came to her (Sankari’s) flat on July 27 (a day after the murder) and told the neighbours that Sankari was at her residence in Narengi and there was no need to worry. But the same Bandana complained to Noonmati police station in Guwahati on August 29, stating that mother and son had been missing since July 26,” a senior police official said.

“During our investigation, it was revealed that nobody in the apartment had seen Shankari with Bandana during this period,” he added. The police registered it as a missing persons case and there were no immediate leads.

Nephew enters the picture 

On August 25, Bandana visited her husband’s relative’s house to tell them her husband and his mother had been missing since July 26, recalled Shakari’s 42-year-old nephew Nirmalya Dey. “There was no reason to doubt her at that time. We saw it as a one-off event,” he said. 

On October 30, Nirmalya went to check in on his aunt at her house. Her neighbours repeated what Bandana had told them about Shankari being with her son and daughter-in-law. “I went to Narengi and Bandana’s neighbours told me that they did not see my aunt there,” Nirmalya recalled. He still did not suspect murder.

It was on November 21 that Nirmalya filed a case in Noonmati, saying money was being withdrawn from Shankari’s bank account via ATM cards (the police now think Bandana must have been withdrawing the money). He suspected that she and his cousin might have been abducted. The police conducted another set of inquiries, but in vain. 

“I suspected that Bandana was hiding something. I told the police that there is something wrong with her. I also met the CID DIG, who finally took the initiative to investigate the case,” he further said.

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On February 14 this year, Bandana approached the Guwahati police commissioner’s office, complaining of police inaction in the missing persons case. Nirmalya, meanwhile,  complained to the CID about such inaction. 

The police then constituted a special team to review the case. “The missing man report and the abduction case were reviewed and a special team headed by the ADCP (Central District) Kalyan Pathak was entrusted to carry out further investigation,” Guwahati commissioner of police Diganta Barah said.

“The special team examined the informant Bandana Kalita and complainant Nirmalya Dey again. During the examination of Bandana Kalita, there were numerous inconsistencies found in her versions which raised suspicion against her…as a result of sustained interrogation over two days, she finally confessed to the crime,” Barah said.

Bandana was on Monday (February 20) produced before the court of the chief judicial magistrate, Kamrup Metro, who remanded her to four-day police custody. Dhonti and Arup were later arrested.

“Based on her confession, two of her associates, partners in the commission of the gruesome crime, were arrested. Dhonti Deka was picked up from Tinsukia and Arup Deka from Khanapara, and put to intensive interrogation. The duo confessed to the crime” Barah recounted. 

The search for remains

The special team then took the trio to the spots where the body parts of the victims had been disposed of. The team, with the help of Meghalaya police, searched the gorges located at Aliangriat village. Eventually, it managed to trace the mortal remains of Sankari. “Search is going on for the mortal remains of Amarjyoti Dey,” the police commissioner said.

The police also seized two mobile phones of Bandana and Dhonti, the Hyundai Accent, ATM cards of Sankari and Amarjyoti, and tattered clothes and a blanket of Sankari found at Sohra.

Sour relations

“Bandana and Amarjyoti married around 12 years ago against the wishes of both their families. The post-marital relationship was hardly cordial. Amarjyoti was not gainfully employed and because of this there were tiffs between husband and wife. Bandana worked in a call centre for two years and supported her husband financially,” the police commissioner said.

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Later, Amarjyoti’s mother accepted the marriage and started supporting them financially. Subsequently, Bandana took up training to be a fitness trainer and her mother-in-law initially supported her in this endeavour but later backed out. This soured their relationship, investigations revealed.

“As per Bandana’s version, Amarjyoti used to take addictive substances and also maintained multiple relationships with other women. Bandana conspired to kill the mother and son and, with the help of her close associates Arup and Dhonti, put her plans into action,” the police commissioner said.

Bandana was charged under Sections 365/382 and Sections 302/201 of the IPC. On Wednesday (February 22) she was sent to six days’ police custody, while here accomplices are currently under the custody of Noonmati police station. 

Initial media reports claimed the victims’ body parts had been stored in a refrigerator, but the police have now confirmed otherwise. 

Till date, the police are not too sure of the motive. The victims possessed  a lot of property, and Bandana may have wished to secure the assets. It could also have been due to domestic torture.