Thiruvananthapuram: The twin suicide of a woman and her daughter (Lekha and Vaishnavi) near Neyyattinkara on May 14 (Tuesday), which was suspected to be a case of harassment by a nationalised bank, has taken a new turn. The police now feel it is a case of family harassment. Chandran (the husband and father of the deceased), his mother Krishnamma, her sister Shantha and her husband Kashi have been remanded in custody following the emergence of a suicide note written by Lekha. A case has been registered against them under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, for abetment of suicide.
In fact, the additional judicial magistrate in his report to the government had also said that the death was the result of harassment by the banks. The needle of suspicion turned towards the family on Wednesday morning after police officers who went inside the room where the mother and daughter had burnt themselves found a three-page suicide note written by the mother, Lekha, pasted on the wall of the room. The mother had also made a large charcoal scribble on the wall blaming their imminent deaths on her husband Chandran and other close relatives.
“No one had seen the suicide note yesterday as everyone was busy rushing the burnt bodies to the hospital,” an officer who is part of the investigation said.
The suicide note, which the police have still not conclusively proved was written by Lekha, specifically names four people as responsible for their deaths. “Krishnamma, my husband, Kashi and Shantha are responsible for our death,” it reads. It says that Krishnamma and Shantha were constantly spreading lies about her and her daughter. The note purportedly written by Lekha even accuses Krishnamma of attempting to poison her in the name of dowry. “Instead of saving my life I was taken to a shaman,” the note says, referring to Chandran.
The note, at least in two places, speaks of Chandran's dependence on quackery. The note also states that there were constant fights in the house. Also that Chandran was under the influence of his mother Krishnamma. “I was never given the consideration of being his wife,” the note says.
The note says that Krishnamma was also against selling the house to pay off the debts. Krishnamma was against selling the property because it had a 'thulasi thara'. Lekha says in the note that Chandran was least bothered about the bank notice. “Instead of doing anything about it, he took it to the 'thulasi thara' and did pujas,” the note says.
The police source said that all the accused have denied the charges. “The husband admitted that there were fights between his wife and his mother, nothing else,” the source said. The police also virtually ruled out any wrong on the part of the bank. “From what we have collected it is clear that the bank was just going about the procedures in a normal manner. There are also documents that show that the family was ready to repay the pending amount. In short, there is nothing to show that the mother and daughter had taken the extreme step because of the pressure exerted by the bank. The suicide note, too, doesn't say that,” the police source said.
Chandran's behaviour also has aroused suspicion. “The property was in his name and it was he who should have been worried. But he showed no traces of tension after his daughter had died and his wife was battling for her life in the medical college,” the police source said. It was Chandran who told on May 14 that it was the pressure put on by the banks that led to the suicide of his wife and daughter. Neighbours, too, had confirmed that the family was under pressure on account of the attachment proceedings.
Neighbours have now given a different version to the police. “All the people in the vicinity we talked to virtually confirm the contents of the suicide note. They say that the mother and daughter were not allowed to mingle with others, and that the mother was not even found outside. She was virtually under house arrest,” the police source said. “The poison charge could have been a wild one, made at a moment of intense anger,” the source said.
Nonetheless, it is also true that the family was financially distressed. The last rites of Lekha and Vaishnavi were held at the compound of their house on Wednesday.