Driven by poverty and public humiliation, a mother and son hanged themselves in the same room of their Bagbazar residence, in north Calcutta, early on Tuesday. They tore up a sari and made nooses out of it.
In separate suicide notes, Chhabi Sadhukhan, 55, and Ayan, 22, who was studying computer engineering, blamed relatives Haradeb, his wife Ranjana, and his sister-in-law and her husband, Bulganin, who lived in the same area.
“We are looking for the accused on the basis of an FIR lodged by Ayan’s father, Gobinda. The accused are absconding,” said Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner (I) of the detective departnment.
The incident has sent shock waves in the neighbourhood as the Sadhukhan family was respected there, and Ayan was popular for his affable nature and academic credentials.
According to the police, Gobinda and his brother, Haradeb, were co-owners of their ancestral four-storey house on Bagbazar Street. Gobinda lived in his part of the house with wife Chhabi, son Ayan and daughter Tanusree. Gobinda hardly earned anything and his savings were dwindling. Without funds, Ayan, who had a year to go at the St Thomas Engineering College, Kidderpore, wondered how he would continue his education.
Unable to reconcile herself to the fact that her son would have to cut short his education, Chhabi had been requesting her husband to rent out two ground-floor rooms to finance Ayan’s education for a year. However, Haradeb did not allow Gobinda to carry out the plan. Recently, Gobinda had started renovating a portion of the ground floor.
Things came to a head on Monday evening when Gobinda was called out on the street by a local youth, Bhola, at the instance of Haradeb’s brother-in-law Bulganin. “As soon as Baba (Gobinda) went out, he was surrounded by Bulganin and his accomplices. They abused him and dared him to rent out the ground-floor rooms,” recounted Tanusree.
Ayan was returning home after tuition and stopped when he found his father was being heckled. Chhabi, too, had come out of the house and stood by her husband. “Suddenly a 12-year-old girl threatened to slap my mother if she didn’t withdraw. She and my brother were dumbfounded and quietly returned home,” said Tanusree in tears.
They retired after an early dinner. Then, around 1 am, father and daughter saw the bodies hanging in a ground-floor room. They raised an alarm. The police arrived, opened the door and brought down the bodies. The separate suicide notes were written on a single sheet. The notes were identical, save Ayan’s request that some books he borrowed from a friend be returned.