A man, accused in a series of murders and sexual assaults on women, was sentenced to death by a court here for the rape and killing of a schoolgirl in West Bengal’s Purba Bardhaman district.

Kamaruzzaman Sarkar, who gained notoriety as a serial ‘chain’ killer for strangling his victims with bicycle chains, was sentenced to be hanged to death by the additional district and sessions judge Tapan Kumar Mondal of Kalna court after being found guilty of the rape and murder of the girl.

Sarkar, a small-time trader of discarded materials, is being tried in other courts for 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.

The alleged serial killer who targeted women when they were alone at home, was arrested in the town of Kalna in Purba Bardhaman district in June last year.

The 42-year-old, attired in trendy clothes, would allegedly enter homes during afternoon hours on the pretext of taking electricity meter readings and then pounce upon the women with a cycle chain and an iron rod, according to the prosecution.

Some women had managed to escape attacks by the diminutive man, whose modus operandi was to strangulate them with a chain and then hit them on the head to ensure death.

Though he would escape with some valuables from the houses of his victims, theft does not seem to be the motive.

Murdering the women seemed to be his main target, according to district police sources.

Police said that Sarkar, married with three children, had even allegedly inserted sharp materials into the genitals of some of his victims following their deaths.

Following the murder of a middle-aged woman, the district police had circulated CCTV footage of a suspect wearing a red helmet and riding a red motorbike to all police stations, following which he was apprehended at a check-point.

Sarkar is suspected to have killed a woman of Anukhal area on January 27 last year, police said.

On April 4, 2019, two women were killed within a few hours of each other in the Memari police station area of Purba Bardhaman.

Another woman of Memari was also killed in the same manner, the police said.

Swarupa Bibi of Rongpara here was one of the lucky few to have escaped a similar attack. She was allegedly attacked from behind with a cycle chain, but she managed to shrug off the attacker and raise an alarm.