People gather outside the building in which Swapan Banerjee, his wife and son were found with signs of poisoning on Tuesday. They lived in a second-floor flat (circled). Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
A businessman who had made a death pact with his family to escape being hounded by suspected debt-recovery agents survived the suicide attempt but his wife and only son, a budding classical singer, didn’t.
Not far from where Swapan Banerjee and his family acted out the suicide script, a pharmaceutical sales executive hanged himself in his rented house and left a note saying he couldn’t bear the burden of loans anymore.
Swapan, 50, was found lying on the floor of his two-bedroom flat at Bijoygarh, under Jadavpur police station, on Tuesday afternoon with signs of poisoning but still breathing. Wife Urmi, 42, and son Rajrup, 12, lay dead on a bed in the same room.
Three names scribbled on a wall with a pencil and a brief explanation of their role in the tragedy led police to surmise that Swapan, who owns two eyewear shops, was in debt and under pressure to repay.
The superintendent of police of South 24-Parganas, Ajey Ranade, said letters and documents found in the flat suggested that Swapan had borrowed around Rs 25 lakh from individuals and financial institutions. “But we cannot divulge the names on the wall without confirming that the handwriting is Swapan’s and tracing the trio. The writing mentions that the trio were hounding the family and had recently confined them to the flat for some days,” he said.
The family that stays in the opposite flat had alerted other neighbours and called the police when the Banerjees did not emerge from their apartment until afternoon on Tuesday. A police team broke open the door around 4.30pm. Swapan, admitted to MR Bangur Hospital, was in a critical condition till late in the night and unable to talk.
“They were a nice family and appeared to be financially stable. They used to live in Baruipur but shifted to Bijoygarh when Rajrup started learning classical music from a famous guru who stays in Golf Green. I last saw Swapan on Monday and he looked pale. His ground-floor shop was closed. The second shop is in Bansdroni,” neighbour Sumana Das said.
Swapan had first bought a one-bedroom flat. He later acquired a two-bedroom apartment and the ground-floor shop. Investigators are trying to find out how many loans he took to buy these properties.
Rajrup had continued to study in Baruipur Academy — he was in Class VII — even after the family shifted.
The other debt-related suicide was discovered on Monday night, when a man who had lent money to sales executive Pranab Kumar Ghosh, 40, knocked on the door to his rented house at Vidyasagar Colony, also under Jadavpur police station, and found it locked. A foul smell led him and landlord Santosh Bose to the back of the ground-floor house. They broke open the rear door and found Pranab hanging.