Murshidabad: Around noon on October 8, the last day of Durga Puja, Bandhu Prakash Pal and his family opened the door to the last man they would ever see. Pal, his pregnant wife Beauty and six-year-old son were hacked to death within five minutes in their home in Bengal's Murshidabad, say the police, NDTV reported.
The motive was money, officers said, and not politics, as had been circulating online over the past week.
The man arrested for the horrific murders is Utpal Behara, who had invested in an insurance scheme 35-year-old Pal had sold him last year. They were from the same town. Enraged at not getting a premium receipt, Behara demanded his money back. He was humiliated and rudely told off by Pal, and a grudge was born. After a recce of the Pal home in Jiaganj, Behara, a construction worker, executed his plan.
"Between 12.06 and 12.11, all the murders were committed. He said he entered and attacked. He was worried that the wife and child would recognize him, so he killed all three," said N Mukesh Kumar, a senior police officer.
Behara, armed with a machete, first killed Pal, then his wife and finally their son Arya.
Beauty made a call to a friend at 12.06 pm. The family was dead by the time a milkman knocked on the door and raised an alarm at 12.11 pm.
The milkman saw a man, now believed to be Behara, running away.
Behara's family says there was a misunderstanding, that he is being framed. But the police say they have evidence including call records, his mobile tower location and the weapon.
A video of the bodies lying in blood was circulated on social media by many BJP leaders and supporters who insisted that Pal was a victim of political killings in the state.
Amid sparring, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said the case "cannot be brushed under the carpet" and expressing dismay over the "silence" of the Mamata Banerjee government.
Pal's family emphatically denied any political links but the BJP alleged that he was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the party's ideological mentor.
"The story today, that for Rs. 24,000 someone killed an entire family. I don't think it is believable, It's just an eyewash by the police to save its face and that of the government. A central agency should probe the case," said BJP leader Dilip Ghosh.
The state's ruling Trinamool Congress accused the BJP of playing politics over the killings to discredit its government.
Both parties have aggressively targeted each other in the build-up to the 2021 Bengal assembly election and accused each other of violence.