An octogenarian couple, apparently dispirited by deaths of contemporaries, consumed pesticide at their ancestral home in Haludbani village of Patamda, 30km from Jamshedpur, on Monday.
While preliminary investigations suggest suicide, police have sent the bodies of Bhola Nath Mahto (88) and his wife Alo (85) for post-mortem to rule out foul play.
According to niece Ashwini Mahto, the senior citizens lived with their three sons in the Pardih area of the steel city and visited Haludbani only during harvest season.
“They were good people and we can think of no reason behind their death wish except for bereavement. Both Bhola uncle and Alo aunt used to get extremely upset on hearing the news of someone’s demise, especially one their generation. They would like beseech god to take their lives too,” recalled Ashwini.
This season, the couple had come to their ancestral village with youngest son Sadanand and two daughters-in-law. Sadanand, who is an auto-rickshaw driver in Jamshedpur, returned to the city after leaving his parents and sisters-in-law in Haludbani.
According to Ashwini, around 8am on Monday, the two younger women went to tend to paddy. Two hours later, they returned to find their parents-in-law dead in the courtyard with an empty bottle of pesticide lying nearby. Villagers informed Bodam police and the couple’s three sons in the city.
Bodam OC Vinod Kumar Singh said the post-mortem took place at MGM Medical College after which the sons performed the last rites. “We are yet to ascertain the reason behind the twin suicides. The Mahtos seem to be nice and peace-loving people. We found nothing wrong in the family. A case of unnatural death has been registered,” he added.
DSP Amit Kumar, who inspected the couple’s Haludbani home, too hinted at death wish and nothing else. “This appears to be a case of suicide, but we will still wait for the post-mortem report to arrive at any conclusion,” he said.