An engineer, who burnt alive his wife and two daughters as part of an alleged suicide pact because the couple believed the whole family was HIV-positive, told police on Wednesday that only he had undergone a test at a pathological laboratory.
The 39-year-old engineer, who cannot be named for legal provisions, had earlier claimed that he and his 37-year-old wife had undergone tests seven months ago. He had also claimed the daughters, aged nine and two, had been tested.
Rakesh Kumar Jain, the superintendent of police of Betul district, where the incident occurred, said police did not believe the engineer’s claims. Police will send the engineer’s blood sample for tests to confirm he was HIV-positive.
The police said the engineer was now saying only he had gone for a test seven months ago after developing sores in his mouth that could not be treated. After getting the report from the laboratory, the engineer did not disclose his HIV-positive status to his wife, police said.
About three months ago, his wife developed similar sores in her mouth that did not respond to treatment. The engineer then told his wife he was HIV-positive.
The engineer turned himself in to police in his hometown of Amravati in Maharashtra on Monday. On Tuesday, he was brought by police to Multai town of Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, where the incident occurred, for questioning.
“During today’s interrogation, he said the couple believed they were HIV-positive as both had the same symptoms. They also developed the mindset that their children must have HIV. Later, they decided to commit suicide,” said Jain.
The engineer told police he tested HIV-positive at a pathological laboratory in Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh, where he was working for a public sector undertaking. But his wife and children were never tested for HIV, he said.
Jain said a police team had been sent to the laboratory where the engineer got himself tested.
"We can't believe the story he was telling us about the incident. We will first confirm from the pathology lab, where he claimed to have tested positive, and then we will send his blood sample again for verification," Jain told Hindustan Times.
Another police team was sent to Amravati to record the statements of the families of the engineer and his wife as well as his friends.
The engineer had gone to Amravati with his family on February 28. On the return journey on March 3, he stopped at Gaunapur Ghat in Multai, sprinkled petrol over his car and set it on fire. He then pushed the burning car off the road and jumped in.
The engineer has maintained he intended to kill himself but survived as he got out of the blazing vehicle to try and save his children when his wife had a sudden change of heart.
During his interrogation, the engineer claimed that after setting his wife and daughters ablaze, he had attempted suicide three times at different places. Police sources said he was also saying that he was determined to end his life.
The engineer’s brother-in-law has rejected his statement and sought a proper probe to get to the bottom of the incident.