Gas stench scares locals, cops clueless

Gas stench scares locals, cops clueless

Dwaipayan Ghosh,TNN | Jan 10, 2015, 12.55 AM IST

KOLKATA: With police yet to crack the mystery behind the death of Presidency University student Sumantika Banerjee at a paying guest accommodation near Calcutta Medical College last Sunday, the rising stench of a yet-unidentified gas has struck fear in nearby areas.

The pungent smell of the gas suspected to have killed Sumantika can now be picked up from Arpulli Lane, say sources.

While police are seeking help of chemical experts and reaching out to organizations like ONGC to decode the composition of the gas, the lingering stench has rattled locals.

“We had cooperated when our cooking gas supply was stopped two days ago, hoping the mystery will be solved. But, the smell is still coming from the main road. We want experts to assure us that this gas is not harmful,” said Saroj Majumdar, a local resident.

Police now agree with the Greater Calcutta Gas Supply Corporation’s claim that it was not their cooking gas that killed Sumantika. According to investigators, the gas that filled her room last Sunday was a combination of “something else”.

What led the homicide squad to arrive at this conclusion was an “experiment” that lasted two days. “Even after shutting out the piped gas supply, the smell of the gas is still evident in the residential complex where Sumantika died. Strangely, the smell has now weakened inside the room but can easily be picked up from the main road,” said an officer at the Lalbazar police HQ.

Detective department officers said apart from ONGC, they have decided to take help of the Central Forensic Laboratories located in Hyderabad and Gandhinagar. “We might ask them to help us in the investigation even as we wait for the report from state forensic lab,” said an officer. Sources, however, wondered what stopped the state FSL from making a preliminary report on the nature of the gas though three days have passed since they collected samples from the room.

Officers from Muchipara police and homicide squad said it would be only after analysis of Sumantika’s viscera report that the final reason of death can be ascertained.

A source from the gas agency, meanwhile, said: “We have inspected the line twice and failed to detect any leakage.” He also claimed that their gas is “comparatively lighter” than LPG and there’s little chance of it causing any damage.

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