Police in India's West Bengal province have arrested a contract killer who used poisonous snakes to bump off his targets. Golap Sheikh, 42, a trained snake charmer, has been charged over five bizarre murders and is awaiting trial. Snake charmers once symbolised Indian culture, enthralling westerners with their knack for making vipers and black cobras sway to the tune of their flutes. Despite wildlife protection laws, they are still a common sight in many small towns with their trademark cloth-covered baskets. Police say Sheikh has confessed to killing five people since October. Paid 2,000 rupees ($360) for the first job, his rate went to 5,000 rupees. His modus operandi was as ingenious as it was simple. He staged his roadside show just outside his victim's home. Even as appreciative onlookers showered small change, he would casually release a poisonous snake that slithered into the victim's home and bit him. If somebody raised an alarm after being bitten, he would claim that a non-poisonous snake had escaped from one of his baskets. 'But if you are still worried, go to a clinic,' he would invariably say, and then vanish from the scene. His luck ran out last week when his fifth victim's family refused to let Sheikh leave until a doctor had examined the bitten man. The man died - exactly as per plan - and Sheikh was handed to the police. He and an accomplice face a death sentence.