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Suspicion burns family

Calcutta, Feb. 29: The discovery of Rs 5,000 in the wardrobe drove a suspicious Manab Halder to set his wife and four-year-old daughter ablaze.

The child, Ruma, succumbed to burns at 1 pm at Calcutta National Medical College, following a seven-hour struggle. Her mother, Rupali, is in a critical condition at the M.R. Bangur Hospital. Manab, 26, has been arrested and confessed to setting his wife and child on fire on suspecting Rupali of adultery, police said.

On Thursday morning, Manab, an employee of a private firm, was rummaging through Rupali’s almirah for a shirt when he found a wad of notes in the folds of a sari.

“He counted Rs 5,000 and began to suspect his wife of having an affair with another man. Manab earns Rs 3,000 a month and Rs 5,000 was a lot of money for him,” said the officer in charge of Charu Market police station, Subrata Banerjee.

After Manab started beating his wife of five years, Rupali, 22, left for her parents’ home with her daughter. She was persuaded by her parents to return next day.

Last night, Manab returned to their single-storey residence on Tollygunge Road drunk. He woke up around 5.30 am today and picked up a plastic container of kerosene.

“Manab then tore down the mosquito net and splashed kerosene on Rupali and Ruma. When the woman tried to resist, he poured the oil into her mouth. Manab then set ablaze mother and daughter before fleeing,” said the police official.

Attracted by the screams of Rupali and Ruma, neighbours rushed in and doused the flames. The police were informed and the two taken to hospital.

The police said preliminary investigation has suggested that Rupali did not have an affair but had saved the money from the household budget.

Manab was arrested from a tea stall. “Manab told us that he was bent upon killing his wife. But he was in such a fit of rage that he did not realise that his daughter could also get killed. We have, however, charged him with deliberate murder,” said a police officer.

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