A 31-year-old man who sought fresh dowry after qualifying for a government job, allegedly burnt alive his wife of six years along with their two children in Jharkhand's Garhwa district after his demand was not met.
Though the horrific incident took place on August 16, the matter came to light only on Tuesday after police arrested the main accused Umer Ansari on a complaint by the family of the murdered woman.
The charred bodies were recovered from a wooded area near Ansari's native village Sonehara, around 190 km north-west of capital Ranchi.
"It was a clear case of murder as nylon rope marks were found on the bodies," said Garhwa, superintendent of police SK Jha.
Ansari – working as a teacher on contract basis -- claimed the fresh dowry after cracking the teachers' eligibility test (TET) and was poised to get permanent employment from the state government.
"I didn't ask for dowry earlier because I was a contract teacher. Wahida was a dark complexioned woman and my current position didn't allow a better wife. Now when I have a government job I rightfully demand my dowry. I deserve it," police quoted Ansari as saying in his statement.
He had allegedly demanded Rs lakh more though his in-laws had paid Rs 50,000 at the time of his marriage to Wahida Bibi, 30.
The SP said that preliminary investigations have indicated that Umer, with the help of his parents, tied his son Husain, 6, and daughter Ladli, 4, with a nylon rope along with their mother and burnt them alive.
Wahida, a resident of a neighbouring hamlet of Sonehara, had tied the knot with Umer in 2008.
Ansari and his parents – who were not named – were arrested on Tuesday and remanded in judicial custody for two weeks by a court in Garhwa.
"My poverty has taken away my daughter from me. If only I could meet their demand of Rs one lakh, Wahida would have been alive today," said Wahida's father Samsuddin.
Police were probing the possibility of the "involvement of a fourth person in the murder".
The district education officer, Garhwa, Ramjatan Ram, said that Ansari would not be considered for appointment as a teacher unless he is proven innocent.