Last Friday’s carnival of 70 Durga images inching forward on Kolkata’s Red Road and the attendant four-hour event was of course a grand finale to the festival. But it chimed oddly with the chilling reality in rural Bengal. Apart from the display of profligacy, the carnival coincided with the triple murders at Jiaganj in Bengal’s Murshidabad district. For all the pomp and paegantry, the passing show shall not suppress the hideous reality.

Seldom has any state been convulsed by so horrendous a crime. Close to a week after the killing of a child and his parents, it is distressing to reflect that the crime has been reduced to a kerfuffle between the Trinamul Congress and its Government and the opposition Bhartiya Janata Party. Even eight days after the occurrence, not a single arrest has been effected. The stray detentions and interrogation have yielded nothing thus far.

In the net, the police has tied itself up in knots and the investigation ~ such as it is ~ has been overshadowed by political shadow-boxing and guess work, when not illinformed speculation. The core issue has thus been obfuscated beyond measure. The BJP’s version that the family was exterminated because its head was an RSS sympathiser is rather unconvincing in the absence of concrete evidence. In parallel, no less unproven is the administration’s take that the triple tragedy was the outcome of a feud within the extended family over a land dispute. Hence the speculation that a contract killer might have been engaged to settle scores over a plot of land.

Suffice it to register that the slow investigation signifies the retreat of the law-enforcement authorities, specifically that of the district police and the Criminal Investigation Department. Rather than investigation, it is only the mystery that has deepened since 8 October ~ Bijoya Dashami. Will a few questions get to be asked and answered? Why did a young man, who fled after a while, remain in the house for as long as he did?

Has any attempt been made to prepare a list of the missing articles and documents? Why wasn’t a sniffer dog deployed? Reports suggest that the district police had bungled from the start; it has accorded the short shrift to such crucial pieces of evidence as footprint or fingerprint. Also ignored were the fundamental certitudes of police investigation. The effort over the past week does not match the enormity of the tragedy.

Arguably, the CID was roped in only after the district administration failed to make headway. Had the matter been investigated in earnest in the immediate aftermath, the CID would have been in a position to supplement the effort. Murshidabad’s administration showcases a tragic failure.