The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parents die over daughter’s TV watching

Calcutta, Jan. 22: A debate known in every family — how much television the young should watch and what — spun out of control in a north Calcutta home, culminating in the death of both parents.

Manas Haldar died at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital yesterday evening, following his wife —Chameli — who expired a few hours earlier.

Both died of the burns they suffered on January 16 when — after a heated debate over their 19-year-old daughter Rituparna’s television-viewing habits — Manas set himself afire and Chameli tried to save him but was, instead, engulfed in the same flames.

“From what we gathered from neighbours, who overheard the commotion in the Haldar household last Friday, the father was objecting to his daughter’s watching too much television,” deputy commissioner (north) P. Ravi said.

“The altercation turned ugly after Manas apparently doused himself with kerosene. His wife tried to save him but was consumed by the flames,” Ravi added.

Yesterday, their son, Rajiv Haldar, had to cremate his mother and father in quick succession.

The Haldars of Kalicharan Ghosh Road of Cossipore were a close-knit family, their neighbours told police. Manas was an employee of Calcutta University’s telecommunications department, son Rajiv a science graduate and daughter Rituparna a computer science student of Vidyasagar College.

Last Friday’s events started with 56-year-old Manas returning home and finding Rituparna in front of the TV. The daughter, however, went away to another room— with her books — after being berated by her father. It was at this point that Chameli intervened, telling her husband he was being too harsh.

One word led to another — other domestic issues came up — and Manas was soon grabbing a container of kerosene, pouring the contents on himself and striking a match. Seeing her husband on fire, Chameli rushed to him.

Rituparna, by then, was studying in the neighbouring room but barged in after she sensed that things had gone out of control. She threw a bucket of water on her parents but then screamed and fainted. Neighbours took the couple to Baranagar State General Hospital, from where they were shifted to RG Kar.

Chameli, who had suffered 55 per cent burns, was the first to die on Wednesday. After her last rites were over, news reached the Cossipore home that Manas, too, had passed away. He had suffered 75 per cent burns, said Cossipore police station officer-in-charge Anil Kumar Jana.

Rituparna, severely traumatised, has been losing consciousness on and off since the incident.

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