On the morning of August 30, Amita Mukherjee and her two daughters cremated her husband, Nihar, a government accountant. A day earlier, the trio had penned their suicide note within hours of Nihar's death.
On August 23, Amita's daughters, Mukuta and Kheya, visited Rabindra Bharati University to inform the vice-chancellor that the family was donating its property to the institute.
This strange sequence of events points to the trio being severely depressed by the prospect of life without the head of their household, which is apparently why they leapt to their deaths from the roof of the tallest building in the city on Thursday night.
"They appear to have committed suicide by jumping from the roof of Tower 1 of the South City complex. However, we can't rule anything out at this point of time," Sujay Chanda, deputy commissioner of police, south suburban division, Kolkata police, told Hindustan Times on Friday.
There is no other apparent reason for the triple suicide. The family was well educated. While the younger daughter used to coach students, the elder was a campaigner for environmental issues. They owned substantial property which would have sustained them comfortably down the years.
The scale of the tragedy took the city by surprise on Friday, when the news broke. When the trio entered South City, they signed in as Kheya and two others and told the gatekeeper that they were going to the guesthouse at Tower 1. Instead, they took the elevator to the building's 35th floor, where they waited more than two and a half hours before taking the plunge.
"The closed-circuit television footage we've collected shows that they entered at about 11.40pm," Chanda said.
The door to the roof was open and the trio waited until no one was around before leaping to their deaths. "The experience of the Stephen Court fire in 2010 where six people perished because the door to the roof was locked was a lesson for everyone. The door to the roof was left open. This allowed the trio easy access to the rooftop," a police officer said.
When the bodies were first discovered, flabbergasted police officers, who arrived on the scene at about 6am, made announcements on the building's public address system in an attempt to identify the bodies. When they got no response from any residents, the cops began asking everybody to find out if anybody knew the victims.
Finally, they identified the trio after finding a bag on the staircase to the 35th floor. "There were many things inside the bag, including soap, but the most precious thing for the purposes of our investigation was a letter," an officer of the Jadavpur police station said.
Amita had written the letter on August 29. In it, she described how she was not sure whether her husband would recover. She also mentioned that Rabindra Bharati University would inherit the family's property, including their car. "We're lucky that the bag they left behind wasn't dumped somewhere by the housekeepers," the officer added.
The police took down the family's address from the letter and began searching for the car.
"The car was found in the parking lot. Inside, we found some papers and a pair of chappals. In the meantime, the cops who went to Golf Green to confirm their address brought back some neighbours to identify the bodies," the officer said.
"Looking at the bodies, it appeared that Mukuta had caught hold of her mother just before leaping, because the two were lying very close to each other," the officer added.