Kolkata murder case: Kept at -96°C, mother’s body too frozen for full autopsy


KOLKATA, April 8, 2018 (TNN):

Subhabrata Majumdar kept his 84-year-old mother's body at a constant temperature of -96 degrees Celsius in his bid to preserve it for 25 years, an initial autopsy on Bina Majumdar's remains has revealed.

The tests also confirmed that Subhabrata had removed several vital organs from his mother's body before putting it in an industrial refrigerator. The 46-year-old leather technology graduate — now being treated at Pavlov Hospital for mental illness after his arrest and bail — was so successful in his efforts to "vitrify" the body (the process of preservation in ultra-low temperatures) that officials could not return it on Saturday to Subhabrata's father, the 89-year-old Gopal Chandra Majumdar, for cremation. Sunday is Bina's third death anniversary.


Autopsy experts told cops that tests revealed the use of formalin to preserve the body. But more time was needed, they said, to establish whether Subhabrata had injected the body with the agents necessary for cryoprotection, a much-debated science used for preventing the decay of living cells, tissues, organs or entire bodies by storing them at extremely low temperatures. Subhabrata, officials said, was a keen student of cryoprotection.

But one of the major tasks left for autopsy experts concerns something much more mundane: establishing whether there was a financial motive to what Subhabrata did.

Experts are waiting to "lift" Bina's fingerprint to ascertain whether anyone "copied" her thumb impression for financial misappropriation.

ALSO READ | Man stores dead mother's body in deep freezer for three years in Kolkata

Investigators said they were eager to confirm or rule out any financial motive. A team went to a public sector bank's New Alipore branch on Saturday to find out details of transactions made by the family after Bina's death.

Officials said another aspect of the probe would try to find if there was anyone who knew what was going on but opted not to report it. "These probes will run parallel to each other once we establish whether there was any direct financial motive for doing all this," concluded an officer.

But autopsy surgeons may have opened another angle for the probe in certifying that Subhabrata would have needed "professional help" to remove the vital organs from his mom's body and then sew it up, given the neatness of the incisions. "The opinion so far is that he might have studied anatomy and had prior experience of dissecting animals but this work is that of far more experienced hands," an investigator told media.

Cops also spoke to the Majumdars' neighbours in the Behala neighbourhood to find out whether they had "regular visitors" after Bina's death. At least two relatives have been asked to record their statement.
Of particular interest for cops are the investments that Subhabrata allegedly made in 2015 to acquire the two industrial freezers. "This is one way of trying to trace whether Subhabrata received technical expertise. We have identified one doctor whom Subhabrata had approached to understand the preservation of bodies. This doctor apparently turned him away but we will speak to him again. The old maid, employed when the freezers were bought, may be another important lead," an official said.
Low-temperature laboratory freezers can achieve temperatures of about -40°C or lower and the temperature "sweet spot" for lab freezers is about -85°C, say experts. Very few "advanced" refrigerants can maintain temperatures lower than -85°C. "But these are expensive. We have spoken to experts in this field who have told us that not too many are sold in India," said an investigator.
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