Thiruvananthapuram: Lekha, a housewife who had set herself on fire along with her daughter Vaishnavi in their house at Neyyattinkara in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram district on May 14, had allegedly told a neighbour hours before her death that her husband Chandran was responsible for her action.
“‘Do not try to save me, Chandran is responsible for this,” Lekha, according to police sources, told a neighbour who had come to rescue the duo. She had suffered over 90 per cent burns and her 19-year-old daughter had died on the spot. Later, the woman also succumbed to burns at a hospital.
Immediately after the incident, the media had reported that the mother-daughter duo had committed suicide after a bank had sent notice to attach their house for defaulting on home loan repayment.
Later, the story took a new turn when the cops found a suicide note, pasted on the wall, claimed that family feuds were the reason for them taking the extreme step. The note had blamed Chandran and his mother for harassment.
The latest statement by the neighbour to the police could be a crucial factor in the investigation.
The police will seek the custody of Lekha’s husband Chandran and his maternal aunt’s husband Kashinadhan on Monday. Cooperation of some bank employees has also been sought. They have applied for anticipatory bail.
According to police, search for another persons, mentioned in the suicide note, is on. Police said Vaishnavi’s classmates and teachers were quizzed but they knew nothing about the family issues. Anticipatory bail pleas moved by four persons in custody, Chandran, his mother Krishnamma, sister and her husband, were not allowed yet.
Details of Lekha's plight were found in one of the two notebooks that the police had collected from the house. “A team searched the house for some book or paper to get a match for the writing on the suicide note,” a top police source in charge of the investigation said. A suicide note in three sheets of school notebook paper was seen pasted on the wall of the room in which the mother and daughter had immolated themselves.
“We found two notebooks. One has details of daily household transactions and nothing else. The other seems helpful as it has some personal writings by Lekha,” the source said. According to the police, Lekha had written that she was constantly nagged by Chandran (her husband) and Krishnamma (her mother-in-law) about the money Chandran had sent from the Gulf.
The police said this revealed that the family's financial distress was the source of constant bickering within the family. “Chandran believes that his wife had squandered the money he had made in the Gulf. It also looks like he was being instigated to take this stand by his mother Krishnamma,” the police source said.
The entries in the notebook provide the answer, too. “Lekha wrote that the money was spent on the education of the girl. We could gather from the notebook that the mother knew that the girl was highly ambitious and wanted to be a doctor. The girl is not satisfied with a mere degree and the mother was desperate to get her daughter whatever she wanted to achieve her goals,” the source said. (Source said Vaishnavi had appeared for the NEET). The diary, dated 2019, was written almost on all days in January and till February 6. This means that the emotional harassment had been going on for quite some time. “We are also trying to see whether there are more such diaries, older ones,” the police source said.
The police also said on the face of it the writing on the notebook and the suicide note looked similar. “However, we are sending the evidence for a scientific assessment and only then can we ascertain that the suicide note was written by Lekha,” the police source said.
The twin suicide was first seen as a case of fatal desperation in the face of bank attachment proceedings. Chandran and Krishnamma had given out statements that put the bank in the dock. Neighbours, too, had said that the bank officials had indeed harassed the family.
The line of investigation changed after the police found the suicide note the day after the deaths. However, it still remains a mystery why the suicide note, pasted so prominently on the wall, and a giant charcoal scribble on the same wall were missed by the police officials who entered the room on the day of the suicide.