Calcutta, Feb. 25: Depressed at the turn his and his London-based daughter’s life was taking, a 72-year-old former NRI engineer tried to strangle his wife after plotting his suicide at their Lake Town house today.
Dilip Ranjan Bhuniya, who spent most of his professional life in London, was admitted to R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital in an unconscious state with a crack in his skull — the result of his wife’s struggle to save her own life.
Rekha, 65, was not much better, but could speak feebly — after the attempted strangulation and a blow to her head with a bottle — on the way to the hospital, allowing the police to piece together the details of their unhappy life.
She said from her hospital bed that she was jarred out of her sleep when she found herself choking. Rekha immediately tried to push off her husband. But Dilip, sensing that he was not making much headway, grabbed a bottle (of tomato sauce) and smashed it on her head.
“I tried to ward him off and, in doing so, pushed him hard against a wall,” Rekha said, explaining the profuse bleeding from Dilip’s head and his unconscious state. “I did not know what had got into him but he kept telling me that there was no use living and that was why he had arranged things this way,” she said.
She has made a similar statement to the police.
“They were suffering from depression and got into some kind of scuffle late last night or early this morning,” said Bidhannagar SDPO Sujay Chanda. “Since they are old and extremely unwell, we have not been able to interrogate them. Our story rests on what Rekha told the police.”
The couple had returned from London about four years ago, leaving their daughter there to pursue a disturbed marriage and a management course, neighbours said. South Dum Dum Municipality chairman Sreehir Bhattacharya, also a neighbour, said they would often despair about their daughter’s unhappy life.
The despondency increased after Rekha was admitted to a nursing home a fortnight ago with a serious ailment.
“They were a very well-to-do and well-behaved couple but we could sense that they were not very happy,” another neighbour said.
This morning, around 6.30 am, the maid reported for work as usual. When she knocked, she heard Rekha’s voice, pleading with her to “break open the door and save” her. “He is going to kill me,” she said.
Scared out of her wits, the domestic help rushed downstairs and summoned caretaker Gautam Bhuniya. Gautam gathered the other residents of Bhramar Apartment but even they couldn’t muster the courage to break open the door and rescue her.
Instead, they called Lake Town police station. By the time police arrived, both Dilip and Rekha were lying in a pool of blood. She was barely conscious but Dilip was worse. And from a ceiling fan hung two nooses.
Till late tonight, both Dilip and Rekha were in a critical state. Doctors said they were thinking of shifting them to a nursing home.