Woman allegedly poisons guests at feast, says she was tortured over her complexion and cooking
A 23-year-old woman was arrested on Friday for allegedly poisoning food served at a feast hosted by a relative that resulted in the deaths of five guests. Her intent, police said, was to kill her husband and in-laws, who she claimed victimised her over her complexion and cooking.
Police said 23-year-old Pradnya Survase of Khalapur, about 70 km from Mumbai, confessed to mixing a powder used to kill snakes in the dal that was served to some of the guests at a feast hosted by her relative Subhas Mane in Mahad on Monday.
“Pradnya claims that since her marriage two years ago, she has been insulted regularly for her dark complexion and accused of not being able to cook well,” said Vishwajeet Kaingade, senior inspector of Khalapur police station.
“She has named her mother in-law, Sindhu Survase, husband Suresh Govind Survase, sisters in-law Ujwala Pawar and Jyoti Ashok Kadam, and her mother in-law’s sister Sarita Mane and Sarita’s husband, Subhash Mane for the alleged torture,” the officer said.
Vilash Thikrey, 13, who survived the poisoning, said on Monday he remembered the dal tasting “bitter”.
Survase , who is divorced from her first husband, believes her first marriage broke down because another relative, Ulka Shinde, had “cast aspersions on her character”, said police. She alleged Shinde was damaging her second marriage also.
“She (Shinde) had been taunting her (Survase’s) mother in-law for bringing Pradnya into the family. This too had led to problems in Pradnya’s married life,” said Kaingade.
On Monday, Mane had invited more than 120 people to a house-warming in Mahad. Shinde and her family were among the guests. The puja was followed by a meal cooked on site by a village maharaj (cook). Food was served from 2:30pm to 11:30pm.
Guests who ate in the later batches started complaining of nausea, vomiting and stomach ache a few hours later. About 88 people were hospitalised. Three children, including Shinde’s son Rishikesh, died. On Thursday, 11-year-old Vijay Shinde (not related to Ulka Shinde), and 53-year-old Gopinath Nakure died in separate hospitals.
“We learnt that those who had eaten between 4:30pm and 6pm were suffering from nausea and other issues. We then found out who had served the food then,” said Kaingade on Thursday.
Police questioned Mane’s relatives who had been serving food at the time. They included Survase, who confessed to her crime, following sustained interrogation. The police said she had chosen the house-warming because she knew all those she wanted to kill would eat there.
“She took the powder to Mane’s house. Those she wanted to kill ate the food before she could mix the poison,” said Kaingade. “Around 4:30pm, Sarita Mane, Jyoti Kadam and Ulka Shinde’s kids sat down to eat. Pradnya then decided to kill them and mixed the poison in the dal container,” he said.