March 9, 2021 4:26:31 am
Personnel of Sama police station in Vadodara city have fanned out to multiple locations in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan in search of the nine astrologers, who have been booked in connection with the mass suicide of a family of six, five of whom are dead, including a three-year-old boy. Based on the statement of Bhavin Soni – who passed away on Sunday while under treatment – the police are looking for the astrologers, who allegedly cheated the family patriarch Narendra Soni of Rs 32.5 lakhs, leaving the family in a severe financial crisis. Narendra Soni, who is among the deceased, has also been booked for culpable homicide amounting to murder based on Bhavin’s statement that it was Narendra (58), who allegedly forced the family to consume poison.
While Bhavin, who recorded a police statement late on Thursday evening last week, died on Sunday, his wife Urvi is still battling for life and is on ventilator support at SSG hospital. Bhavin had told the police in his statement that his deceased father had incurred heavy debt in a bid to comply with the instructions of nine astrologers, who promised the family a “breakthrough” from the financial crisis.
According to the police, the astrologers – originally from Rajasthan but operating in Gujarat’s Vadodara and Ahmedabad cities – promised the Sonis that their financial condition would “improve” and urged them to perform rituals that included digging the earth in their house to “discover treasures”. An officer said, “The patriarch of the family believed in the astrologers. One of them took close to 15 lakhs from him to find pots of gold, another took Rs 5 lakhs to find silver pots and even returned silver worth Rs 2.5 lakhs. One astrologer claimed to have found a three-feet long snake in their house which was bringing the ‘bad luck’ and the family believed in all the claims and spent money to eradicate the evil eye.”
Bhavin, who told the police that his father had planned the mass suicide of the family and even force-fed their three-year-old son, Parth, the pesticide-laced drink by his milk bottle while the child was asleep, had also said that the family had acquired loans in order to meet the expenditures of the astrologers as well as their daily needs. According to the police, the family had accepted close to Rs 23 lakhs from a prospective buyer of their house in the same residential colony as “intention of sale” agreement but failed to execute the actual ‘sale deed’ because the money was spent on astrologers instead of repaying the debt to free the property from the mortgage.
“The buying party had begun demanding the money back and there was immense stress on the family to return the huge sum that had been spent on superstitious rituals. It was among the triggers for the suicide,” said Inspector P D Parmar of Sama police station. Parmar added that the teams of officers from Vadodara has begun search operations in Rajasthan.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.