RITA DEVI, a poor native of Bihar who came to Punjab for a better living in 2009 and settled in a residential colony of Kapurthala, got the shock of her life in the wee hours of Wednesday. Since the locality had a power cut on Tuesday night, she could not sleep properly. When she woke up around midnight, she found that five of her seven children were lying unconscious while her youngest daughter Aarti was vomiting badly. Her eldest son Abhimanyu (21) had allegedly poisoned five of his seven siblings and then committed suicide late in the night. In a suicide note, purportedly written by Abhimanyu, which police recovered from his pocket, he mentioned the family’s poor financial health as the sole reason behind his ‘’inhumane act’’.
Rita’s husband Raj Kishore is a barber. Raj had gone to attend a wedding on Tuesday night with son Avinash. When Rita tried to wake up her children, she realised they were not moving. Rita called her neighbours for help and took her children to the nearby hospital. Abhimanyu and his sister Anu Kumari (18) died at civil hospital, Kapurthala, while sisters Anshu Kumari (15), Archana (9) and brother Anurag, who was physically challenged, died at the civil hospital in Jalandhar. Rita’s nephew, Harinandan (15), who was also staying with them for the last one month, however, survived.
All five were cremated on Wednesday evening. Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Tayyab has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. Meanwhile, police initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 CrPC to probe the cause of death.
Preliminary investigation revealed that Abhimanyu had allegedly made his siblings eat burger laced with poison and killed them all before eating the same poisonous stuff himself. Police also recovered two bottles of pesticides which they suspect might have been used as poison. Although, in the suicide note, Abhimanyu termed the family’s poor financial health as the reason for his “shameful and inhumane act”, his mother told police that the family was leading a satisfactory life.
The family had been living in a rented accommodation at Laxmi Nagar. Raj Kishore was working as a barber in Shalamar village while Abhimanyu had recently hired a shop on rent and also working as barber.
“We are not very well off, but we were living comfortably as a family. We are paying a monthly rent of Rs 3,500 for this accommodation where we are living. We had recently taken a shop for Abhimanyu on a monthly rent of Rs 3,000. We thought that as time passes, our financial condition would improve,” said Rita.
Harinandan, who survived, said, “All of us, except Aarti, finished dinner at 9 pm. She asked Abhimanyu to bring burger for her. He returned with the burgers around an hour later. He made all of us eat those burgers. I tasted it but found it very bitter, thus left it. Even Aarti could not eat it, since she too found it in extremely bad taste. Thus, she too left it, while the rest ate it. Then we fell off to sleep.”
DSP Gurmeet Singh Kingra said, “Abhimanyu was a very sensitive man. Prima facie, it appears that he first killed his siblings and then committed suicide. We are verifying the facts. There is a pesticide shop right next to the place where Abhimanyu was running his barber shop. Further investigations are on.”