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A 48-year-old “mantrik” arrested in connection with the alleged murder of nine persons from a family in Mhaisal town of Sangli district was admitted to a hospital on Tuesday after he complained of chest pain during medical tests.
The mantrik, Abbas Ahmedali Bagwan, along with Dheeraj Suravase (30), his aide and driver, both residents of Solapur, were arrested on Sunday for allegedly killing the family by poisoning.
The incident was reported in the afternoon of June 20 when two brothers, Dr Manik Vanmore (49), a veterinarian, and Popat Vanmore (52), an arts teacher, along with their mother, their wives and four children were found dead in two separate houses located a kilometre apart in Mhaisal in Sangli district.
Police said Bagwan and Suravase had claimed that they would help the family unearth “hidden treasures” or guptadhan.
Suravase was produced before a court on Tuesday, which remanded him to police custody till July 7 for further investigation. However, Bagwan was admitted to the Miraj Civil Hospital in Sangli after he reported chest pain while being taken for pre-arrest medical tests. “He will be arrested soon after being discharged from the hospital,” the Sangli police said. Police have booked Bagwan and Survase under sections 302 (murder) and 306 (abetment) of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Money Lending Regulation Act.
Earlier, on discovering two suspected suicide notes from the houses of the deceased persons, police had thought that the family took the extreme step because of debt. They initially booked 25 persons, most of whom had lend money to the family and were allegedly pressurising them into repayment. Of these 25 persons, 19 have been arrested so far.
According to Special Inspector General of Police (Kolhapur Range) Manojkumar Lohiya, further probe into the case revealed that the Vanmore brothers were in contact with the mantrik who claimed he would help them unearth hidden treasure. Over the last couple of years, the two brothers had borrowed large sums of money from people to pay the mantrik from time to time, police said.
“The suspect had taken a large sum of money from the family and it is possible that he was worried that the Vanmores would report him to the authorities. Primary probe suggests that the night before the deaths, the mantrik went to the houses of the deceased on the pretext of performing some rituals and gave them a prasad-like edible, which was laced with a poisonous substance,” said Lohiya.
When asked about the suicide notes, Lohiya said, “The probe still suggests that the notes were written by the two brothers. But what was
suspicious about the suicide notes was their sequence. We have observed in many cases that people first state the reason behind the extreme step and then name the persons they hold responsible for it. In this case, it was the opposite. Also, the notes do not categorically say that they were going to end their lives. It now seems that the brothers were misled into writing those notes. We are still probing that angle.”
When asked about the 25 persons booked earlier, Lohiya said, “The case is now taking a different direction. As the probe progresses, we may file an application to discharge these people who are charged with abetment to suicide.”
Police are now also trying to ascertain how the poisonous substance was administered to the deceased.
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