Poisoned sweets to escape poverty
Driven by anxiety about his dwindling income and two daughters, a 32-year-old man who had lost the ability to work hard because of a heart problem killed one of the girls and tried to commit suicide last evening.
Sanatan Majhi of Ketugram had high blood pressure and felt palpitation whenever he exerted himself. He first felt it about a year and a half ago and doctors at the Katwa hospital asked him to take it easy during work.
His wife Jyotsna lodged a police complaint against Sanatan today for killing four-year-old Jaya. “Pressure to run the family drove him to such a dire act,” she said.
“We are looking into her complaint,” subdivisional police officer Tarun Haldar said.
In Ketugram, a police officer working on the case said Sanatan, a resident of Charki village, about 180 km from Calcutta, used to earn about Rs 60 a day as a farm labourer. But the income was not regular. Moreover, the ailment confined him to bed frequently.
Jyotsna, a mother of two daughters, told police Sanatan took the elder one — four-year-old Jaya — to the bazaar last evening.
“When they were near our house about an hour and a half later, I guessed something was wrong from the way they were walking. Jaya could barely walk. When they came near, I found her mouth frothing… my husband’s face was contorted with pain,” she said.
They collapsed moments later and Jyotsna raised an alarm. Neighbours rushed in.
Realising that both had consumed something poisonous, villagers shook Sanatan by his shoulders and asked him what it was.
“He said between gasps that he had filled rosogollas with pesticide granules and fed them to Jaya. Later he ate a few himself,” said Jyotsna.
Jaya was pronounced dead at Katwa hospital. Sanatan is fighting for life.
Although the circumstances are very different, the suspected murder of a daughter by her father in Howrah and what is believed to be his subsequent suicide, have created ripples in the state.
A Ketugram police officer said: “Other villagers have confirmed that Sanatan did not have the money for regular treatment. He went to the local quack whenever he had chest pain.”
Jyotsna said her husband had become sullen. “He could not work for long hours anymore. He also was very worried about how to marry off the two girls,” said Jyotsna.
Neighbour Santu Bairagya said Sanatan often rued his ill health and mourned his inability to do more for his family.