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Debt seals trader death

On the verge of bankruptcy, businessman Nilanjan Barat, 35, committed suicide by consuming poison at his Rajdanga home, in Kasba, on Thursday. He tried to kill his wife and daughter as well. Twelve-year-old Sohini and her mother, Sharnali, 35, are fighting for their lives in a city hospital.

Nilanjan returned home on Wednesday evening from work, as usual, carrying a bottle of soft drink that his wife and daughter are fond of. After dinner, he offered them the beverage laced with a strong dose of tranquiliser. On Thursday morning, Nilanjan’s mother knocked on the door of their bedroom when she could not find either her son or his wife and daughter.

When nobody replied, she called her domestic help and, with the help of neighbours, they broke open the door.

On entering the room, they found the three lying unconscious on the floor. Nilanjan was immediately rushed to MR Bangur Hospital, where he was declared dead.

Sharnali and Sohini were taken to a private hospital, where they are in a serious condition. Nilanjan’s mother, too, was admitted to a nursing home, as she had broken down.

In similar incidents in and around the city in the past two months, two businessmen, Ajoy Bhattacharya and Raju Parui, committed suicide after killing their wives and children.

Both Bhattacharya and Parui were trying to give money-lenders the slip.

Nilanjan Barat, an employee of the Shipping Corporation of India, owned a guest-house in Puri. His troubles began when he tried to start a hotel. “Barat had borrowed nearly Rs 20 lakh from various sources, including money-lenders. But in recent times, he had become almost bankrupt and was regularly receiving threats from the creditors,” said additional superintendent of police (industrial), South 24-Parganas, R.K. Singh.

According to neighbours, Nilanjan was quite popular in the south Calcutta neighbourhood and always helped people in distress. He even offered the needy financial assistance.

But, of late, he was behaving in a strange manner. Strangers and money-lenders used to visit his house, neighbours said.

On Wednesday, he dismissed his Puri guest-house manager after paying his salary and asked him to look for another job, said Nilanjan’s driver.

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