Justice, generic
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Kolkata, West Bengal: Kamaruzzaman Sarkar, who gained infamy for raping women and strangling them with a bicycle chain, was sentenced to death on Monday, by the additional district and sessions judge Tapan Kumar Mondal of Kalna court.

This conviction is in the case of the murder of a schoolgirl in West Bengal's Purba Bardhaman district. However, she wasn’t the only victim.

His 15 targets were between 16 and 75 years old. They were all violated between 2013 and 2019. Of the women he assaulted, at least seven died. Of these killings, at least one body was found mutilated, with signs consistent with rape and beatings post-mortem.

"The court observed that it was one of the rarest of 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," Soumyajit Raha, the special public prosecutor of the case was quoted as saying by ANI.

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

Who is Kamaruzzaman Sarkar?

A small-time trader of scrapped goods, 42-year-old Sarkar was married and had three young children. Media reports paint him as a middle-aged, soft-spoken diminutive man. This ‘normal’, easy-to-forget demeanor however hid a man even his relatives knew little about. “He visited us once in two-three years. He never told us where he lived and what he did for a living,” said Anwarul Islam, Sarkar’s older brother, was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times last year.

How many charges does he face?

Sarkar - who has been called 'Meter Man' and chain killer because of his modus operandi - has been charged in two rape cases, seven murder and six attempts to murder cases in West Bengal.

What was his modus operandi?

Like all serial killers, Sarkar was driven by an urge – to murder. He would strangulate his targets with a chain and then hit them on the head to make sure they were dead.

While he did take some trophies – jewels and other valuables – from the homes of those he killed, the robberies, say police, seem to be incidental. The brutal act of snuffing a life out was the motive. How he chose his victims is as yet not known, but there is a common thread of accessibility.

How would he get to the women?

Sarkar would under the pretext of reading electricity meters enter homes in the afternoons and make small talk to gauge whether the woman was alone. Once he had identified his target, he would launch his attack using an iron rod and a bicycle chain. Police also told PTI that the killer allegedly inserted sharp materials into the genitals of some of his victims after killing them.

How did he get caught?

The 42-year-old was a superstitious man whose astrologer had told him that red was his lucky colour. It was also the shade of his bike and helmet – worn to get to and away from his victms’ homes. Even though some of the women he had attacked had gotten away, Sarkar was convinced that superstition would keep him safe. He continued to use the same bike and helmet even after the police had circulated CCTV footage of him in this garb after a middle-aged woman had been killed. He was caught at a checkpoint in his red helmet.

Now what happens?

Sarkar, says ANI, is being tried in other courts for the 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.

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.

Response of the family

When he was charged with the killings, Jahanara, his wife, was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying: “I cannot believe he killed all those women. In these 15 years, he did not even slap me although we had arguments. He loved spending time with his children.”

His consel at the time Subhra Roy said: “My client suffers from a mental ailment. The police are trying to frame him to suppress their failure in solving so many murders.”