Upset over being allegedly cheated by his brother, a rice mill owner, his wife and son committed suicide by hanging themselves at Samana in Patiala district on Wednesday night.
Around 9.30pm, commuters found the bodies of the deceased, identified as Kamaljit Singh (50), Kuldeep Kaur (48) and their son Vikramjit Singh (28), hanging from a tree near Sidhu Rice Mill, owned by Kamaljit in partnership with his elder brother, Harjit Singh.
Police found two cars owned by the family, which had been set ablaze, on the mill premises, and also recovered a half-empty liquor bottle, two glass tumblers and water bottles from the spot. A suicide note was also recovered.
On the basis of the note, the police have registered a case of abetment to suicide against including Harjit, his wife Gurdeep Kaur, sons Harwinder Singh and Jaskarn Singh, their wives Kuldeep Kaur and Baljit Kaur, respectively, and Kuldeep's sister Manpreet Kaur.
Five of the seven accused have been arrested, while Harwinder and Kuldeep are absconding, the police said. Sources said Kamaljit had recently come out of Patiala jail on parole in a murder case.
Superintendent of police Jaskiranjit Singh Teja ruled out foul play and said it appeared that the family dispute had caused Kamaljit and his family to take the extreme step.
Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Amarjit Singh Ghuman said the mill was shut down early this year after alleged embezzlement of paddy from the premises, following which Markfed had imposed a heavy penalty on the mill owners.
"After last year's milling, Kamaljit had given around Rs. 60 lakh to Harjit and the latter's son Harwinder Singh, who later kept the amount for themselves and refused to give Kamaljit his share," the DSP added.
After Harjit and his son refused to give him the amount due as his 75% share in the business, Kamaljit approached the police. Following its intervention on Wednesday, Harjit decided to pay Kamaljit around Rs. 38 lakh.
"Dissatisfied with the inadequate amount, Kamaljit, his wife and son committed suicide," the DSP claimed.