A 35-year-old mother and her three children were burnt to death allegedly by her in-laws at their Canal South Road residence in the Tangra police station area on Sunday night. The woman and her children, aged between five and 11, were taken to Nilratan Sirkar Medical College and Hospital where they succumbed to their injuries early on Monday. The victims were identified as Anita Singh, 35, Sonu, 5, Rani, 7, and Rahul, 11. The eldest daughter Nitu, 13, was saved as she was not home.
Anita’s mother-in-law Rukmini Singh was arrested on the basis of her dying statement. “The doctors recorded Anita’s dying declaration where she clearly said that Rukmini and her three sons set her on fire. Accordingly, we have started a murder case against the mother-in-law and her sons, and the statement will be treated as prime evidence in this case. The victim’s three brothers-in-law, identified as Anil, Omprakash and Joyprakash, are absconding,” said Anuj Sharma, deputy commissioner of police, eastern suburban division.
Anita’s husband was not arrested. “She did not mention his name in her statement. So we can’t arrest him now,” said Sharma. “The woman did not say anything about the motive behind the incident. Apparently, it was the fallout of a family dispute.”
Anita’s husband Parashuram, a plastic goods businessman who married her 14 years ago, said he was not home when the tragedy occurred. “It was around 6 pm when I had gone to collect money from my clients. On hearing about the incident, I rushed back. Police detained me till midnight,” he said.
Nitu said: “I was in front of our main gate. Suddenly, I heard a loud noise coming from our room. I rushed in and saw my mother in flames. My two brothers and sister squirming on the floor were also burning. All of them were screaming.”
Neighbours poured water on the burn victims. “We found it difficult to douse the flames for all of them wore clothes of synthetic materials. Their condition was critical,” said neighbour Suresh Jha.
Police said the children were the first to die. “The mother died early this morning. She spoke to the doctors and related how she and her children had been set on fire,” said an officer of Tangra police station.
Police refused to hand over the bodies to Parashuram. “We have informed Anita’s family members in Patna. If they file any complaint against Anita’s husband, we will take action against him,” said Kuldeep Singh, deputy commissioner, headquarters.
There was no sign of an accidental fire having broken out in the room. Neighbours asserted that Anita and her three children were murdered.