The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Return to a home of the dead

Burdwan, Feb. 13: When Shib Kumar Mandal headed for Calcutta early in the morning, he left behind a small and happy family — wife Subhadra, 34, daughter Ananya, 10, and seven-month-old son Babun — at his Badamtala home. The headmaster of a local school returned at night to find his wife hanging from the ceiling fan, his daughter lying lifeless on the floor and his baby boy dead on the bed.

Burdwan police later pieced together the tragedy on the basis of a suicide note penned by Subhadra. “She was teaching her daughter after lunch and the baby was sleeping in one corner of the bed. Suddenly, Ananya started arguing with her mother. Subhadra lost her cool and grabbed her daughter by the neck. The mother’s grip suffocated the girl and she fell to the floor, dead,” said an officer.

In the melee, some blankets kept on the bed fell on the sleeping infant. The trapped baby boy, too, died of suffocation.

Realising that she had lost both her children, within moments — one to a fit of rage and the other to a freak accident — Subhadra was distraught. Unable to bear the thought of confronting her husband with the news that both their children had died while he was away, she decided to end her life.

“She (Subhadra) wrote that they were a very happy family, adding that Shib Kumar loved his children very much. She also clarified that Ananya was a good student and that she hadn’t hit her daughter for failing to learn her lessons. It was an accident, she pleaded, as was the death of Babun,” said the police officer.

Convinced that she could not “face her husband” when he returned home, Subhadra proceeded to hang herself from the ceiling fan with a sari.

Mandal, who had gone to Calcutta on some official work, returned to Badamtala around 9.30 pm. He knocked on the door of his first-floor flat but no one replied.

After banging on the door for around 10 minutes, Mandal panicked and called his tenants who live on the ground floor. They broke open the door and entered the drawing room.

There, on the floor, was the body of Ananya. Mandal, then, entered the bedroom and found Subhadra hanging from the ceiling and Babun lying on the bed. The suicide note lay on the bed, beside the body of the baby.

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