Police suspect mass murder and suicide in death of 11 Pakistani refugees in Jodhpur
The only survivor in the family claimed he had gone out in the night to guard his farm and returned later to sleep on the verandah.Updated: Aug 10, 2020 18:32 IST
A woman who was a nurse, possibly gave sedatives and then injected insecticide into 10 members of her family taking her own life, said a senior police official on Monday as a probe continued into the death of 11 people in Jodhpur district’s Lodata town on Sunday.
Police had earlier suspected a suicide pact. The 11 people belonged to a Hindu family which had migrated from Pakistan in 2015. Their bodies were found in a small house at a farm in Jodhpur district’s Lodata town on Sunday morning. The victims were identified as Budharam (75), Antara Devi (70), their son, Ravi, 35, daughters Laxmi and Priya and their six grandchildren.
Only one member of the family survived. Kewalram who claimed to have gone out in the night to guard his farm, later returned and slept on the verandah of the house. He also claimed that he was not aware of what happened inside the house on Saturday night and that he saw he bodies only on Sunday morning
“Preliminary probe suggests that the deceased were first given sedatives in food by one of the victims identified as Priya, who was a nurse. After victims felt unconscious, they were given insecticide injections and the poison mixed directly with blood and they died in sleep,” said Rahul Barhat, Jodhpur superintendent of police (SP).
“Priya injected the poison in her body through a cannula (a thin tube inserted in the vein or body to administer medicine) on her leg,” the SP said.
He said the injections were given in a very “professional manner” and only Priya, a trained nurse, could have done it.
On the basis of the investigation, the police said that there were two possibilities. First, it was a case of mass suicide. Second, Priya committed the murders and then killed herself. The possibilities fit with the evidence that there were no injury or marks on the bodies of any of the victims.
Police are still baffled by the motive for the crime.
In its investigation, the police have found that there was a dispute between Kewalram and Ravi, two brothers, and their in-laws for a last couple of years, which was also mentioned in the alleged suicide note found from the house. The note also spoke of financial hardship the family was facing.
Kewalram and Ravi had married sisters from a Bheel tribal family, whose parents now live in Jodhpur city. Their wives went to their parental house with their children, a few months ago, as the martial dispute became murkier, police said.
“Between 2018 and 2020, Kewalram and his in-laws had filed complaints and counter complaints accusing each other of harassment. In the latest complaint lodged at Mandor police station in Jodhpur city in March this year, the in-laws accused the entire family of domestic violence,” said another police officer, who was not willing to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Kewalram told police that his family suspected all of them could be arrested in the domestic violence case. They were also unsure about getting Indian citizenship, if they were arrested and spoke about the possibility of their repatriation to Pakistan, the officer said.
The victim’s family had come to India from Sangad district of Sindh province of Pakistan in 2015, a year after the in-laws family came and settled in Jodhpur city. As per the citizenship law, a Pakistani has to be resident of India for seven years before applying for citizenship.
On why Priya could kill her family, Barhat said they did not have evidence to suggest that she killed her family. “Priya was a professional nurse and therefore, there was a high probability that she did it. But, again survival of Kewalram is a big question mark in the entire story,” he said.
The SP said the medical reports would answer several questions.
On Monday, the post-mortem of the 11 bodies was conducted after Covid-19 tests came negative. Later, with help of district administration the funeral was performed.
A team of medical experts would examine the post-mortem results, a police officer said. Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday said thorough investigation will be conducted into the case.