Jharna Majhi, 38, decked up in bridal finery before hanging her two children. Then, she tied the noose round her neck and killed herself.
Jharna’s eight-year-old son Subhashis survived, but five-year-old Pamoshi choked to death before her father, Bimal Majhi, could break open the door and enter the room at Naskarpara, in the Jagachha police station area of Howrah, early on Sunday.
“Subhashis was found hanging from the door latch, but he survived as his feet had touched the ground. He was taken to a Howrah hospital in an unconscious state. The doctors have kept the boy under observation,” said L.N. Meena, additional superintendent of police (town), Howrah.
Preliminary investigation suggested that Jharna’s “depression” had triggered the tragedy. “She had been under treatment and had seen a number of doctors, but her condition remained unchanged. As a result, her mental condition deteriorated,” said an official of Jagachha police station.
According to police, the incident took place well after Saturday midnight, while Jharna’s husband Bimal, a superintendent at a local jute mill, was on night shift.
“Normally, Jharna would not go to sleep before midnight. But on Saturday, she had dinner with her two children and went to bed around 9 pm,” said Kanan Das, a next-door neighbour.
Reconstructing the incident, police said Jharna roused her children in the dead of the night.
On examining the room, police realised that Jharna had dressed Subhashis and Pamoshi in new clothes, taken out from the almirah. “She, too, wore a colourful sari and applied alta on her feet. Her hair, too, was done up,” said an officer on the case. “It seems she wanted to look like a new bride.”
Jharna first hanged Subhashis from the door latch, then Pamoshi from the grille of the window. Finally, she tied a sari round her neck and hanged herself from the ceiling, said the investigating officer.
Before committing suicide, Jharna had taken out all her medical prescriptions and medicine bills and burnt them. “This suggests the incident was a fallout of her ailment,” said an officer of Jagachha police station.
Bimal returned to his Naskarpara residence after a double shift at 2 pm and found the door locked from within.
“He knocked repeatedly, but there was no response. Sensing trouble, he called in the neighbours and broke down the door, only to find his wife and daughter dead, and his son unconscious,” said Meena.