The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Man burns family, self

Ajoy Bhattacharya, 41, strangled his wife and three children in their Sodepur flat early on Monday. Then he dragged the cooking gas cylinder from the kitchen into the bedroom, struck a match and burnt himself to death.

Police said the former bank executive killed himself after wiping out his family to “escape financial ruin”, staring him in the face following a failed business venture. A police team broke into the Sodepur house and discovered the five charred bodies of Ajoy, Aparna (32), Ankita (13), Nikita (11) and Ronit (7).

Adding a macabre twist to Monday’s tragedy on the northern fringes of the city was the discovery that the hands and legs of the three children had been tied with a thick rope. Preliminary investigations suggested that Ajoy had first tied up his son and two daughters and throttled them to death before strangling his wife and then setting himself ablaze.

Superintendent of police (North 24-Parganas) Basudeb Bag said both murder and suicide angles were being probed. “We are lodging a murder case against the man who later killed himself, while also investigating the suicide angle,” Bag clarified.

The Bhattacharyas lived in a rented house in Netaji Pally for the past seven years. Ajoy had availed of the voluntary retirement scheme from a bank to set up his own business three years ago with a local partner. But the mineral water venture had flopped miserably.

Neighbour Suniti Ghosh recalled noticing smoke billowing out of the Bhattacharya home at around 3 am. Ghosh raised an alarm and neighbours alerted the fire brigade. Two fire tenders were called in from Panihati and they battled the blaze for nearly an hour.

“We broke open the door to enter Ajoy’s room, only to find the five charred bodies. An LPG cylinder, with its pipeline cut, was recovered from the spot. Ajoy, who was charred beyond recognition, was sitting at the door of his bedroom and had a handkerchief stuffed in his mouth. The three children’s legs were tied,” said Asoke Roy, officer-in-charge of Ghola police station.

The bodies were sent for post-mortem and forensic experts were summoned to scour the spot. “Ajoy was extremely polite and never defaulted in paying the monthly rent. He never told us anything about a financial crisis,” said Shankar Ghosh, the house-owner’s son.

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