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Serial killer? Two women found dead in train toilets in Assam over last 36 hours

Similarities in modus operandi for the two killings have led police to suspect that the same person may be responsible for both the killings.

india Updated: Jul 11, 2018 23:41 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Assam train deaths,Women found dead in train,Assam
A 21-year-old student of the Assam Agricultural University and a 48-year-old woman were found dead in the toilets of trains plying on the same railway route in Assam. (AFP File Photo/Representative image)

Two women were found murdered in the lavatories of trains plying on the same railway route in Assam over the last 36 hours. Similarities in modus operandi have led police to suspect that the same person may be responsible for both the killings.

In the first incident, a 21-year-old student of the Assam Agricultural University was found strangled in the toilet of a compartment reserved for differently abled people on the New Tinsukia-Rangiya Express on Tuesday morning. Her body was found by a sweeper at Simaluguri station around 9.15 am, barely 20 minutes after she had boarded the train from Sivasagar.

The victim was on her way to Golaghat to meet her uncle.

According to the woman’s mother, who had dropped her off at the Sivasagar railway station, she was carrying Rs 10,000 to buy a mobile phone. “The marks on the victim’s neck suggest that she was strangled. She bled from the nose too,” a railway police officer said on the condition of anonymity.

Significantly, a gamosa — a traditional Assamese handwoven towel — was recovered from the toilet. As the compartment was empty, there were no witnesses to the crime.

The woman, incidentally, hailed from Bihar. “Although rape looks unlikely as her clothes were intact, we are awaiting the autopsy report,” the source said.

Simaluguri railway station does not have any CCTV cameras that can help the police in their investigation.

The second incident, which occurred the very next day, bore glaring similarities with the previous one. According to railway police, the body of a 48-year-old woman was recovered from the toilet of a compartment reserved for differently abled people on the Awadh-Assam Express at Jorhat’s Mariani Junction around 2.15 pm on Wednesday.

Police said the victim, who also hailed from Bihar, had boarded the train from Dibrugarh in upper Assam. The train left Dibrugarh station at 9.36 am and arrived at Mariani Junction around 2.05 pm. “The woman had probably been dead for over an hour before her body was discovered by another passenger,” a railway police officer said.

In this case too, a gamosa was recovered from the toilet.

“The compartment for differently abled passengers is usually empty. We do not suspect rape as of now; this looks like a case of murder,” the officer said. There were no known eyewitnesses to the crime, and Mariani Junction also lacks CCTV cameras.

The woman, who lived in Dibrugarh with her family, was travelling to Bihar.

Simaluguri is located 54 km from Mariani, and falls on the same railway route. The officer pointed at the similarities between the two cases to indicate that the same person may be behind both the killings. “Both the victims were Hindi-speakers, and happened to be strangled in train lavatories. Leaving the gamosas behind must have been the culprit’s way of sending a message, besides inflaming tempers,” he said.

Assam director general of police Kuladhar Saikia has reportedly constituted a special investigation team to probe the murders.

“Two people have been murdered and there are similarities in both the cases,” R Chandranathan, special director general of police, Railways, said, adding all efforts are on to nab the killers. “We have deployed 11 quick response teams all across the state to prevent such incidents.”

First Published: Jul 11, 2018 21:51 IST