Mumbai: Day after Cuffe Parade family suicide, 4 from Bandra sign death pact

Jun 24, 2018, 07:01 IST | Hajra Bi

Signalling how financial strain is taking a toll on Mumbaikars, after SoBo family is unable to bear the burden of cancer treatment, Bandra family's suicide note hints that struggle to cough up Rs 15 lakh for Panvel home did them in

Mumbai: Day after Cuffe Parade family suicide, 4 from Bandra sign death pact
Rajesh Bhingare, 47, his wife Ashwini, 45, and sons Tushar, 23 and Gaurang, 19, allegedly committed suicide by consuming rat poison

Barely a day after the decomposed bodies of a family that committed suicide, was found at their home in Fishermen's Colony near Cuffe Parade, the city received another shocker, after a family of four from Bandra East killed themselves by consuming rat poison.

According to officials, the family, residing at Government Colony in Kherwadi for the last 30 years, was driven to suicide as they were unable to make arrangements for Rs 15 lakh for a flat in Panvel, which they wanted to buy.

On Friday, the Patels were found hanging from the ceiling of their Cuffe Parade home. In their suicide letter, the couple mentioned the tragic death of their young daughter a few months ago from cancer, and the extreme poverty they were facing and frequent disagreements with neighbours in the colony.
On Friday, the Patels were found hanging from the ceiling of their Cuffe Parade home. In their suicide letter, the couple mentioned the tragic death of their young daughter a few months ago from cancer, and the extreme poverty they were facing and frequent disagreements with neighbours in the colony.

Tragedy unfolds
The deceased have been identified as Rajesh Bhingare, 47, who works as a peon in the office of BJP minister Dhananjay Munde in Mantralaya, his wife Ashwini, 45, and sons Tushar, 23 - a hotel management student - and Gaurang, 19, who was in Std 12. Incidentally, Rajesh and Ashwini Bhingare were to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary today.

The incident came to light when one of the neighbours had gone to meet Ashwini, on Saturday afternoon. According to police officials, Ashwini ran a small flour mill out of her residence. The neighbour, who went to collect her ground packet of flour, had tried knocking on the door repeatedly. When she received no response, she became suspicious. As the door was slightly ajar, the neighbour peeped in, only to find all the members of the family lying motionless on the bed. They were frothing from their mouths. She immediately alerted the rest, who then called the police.

The Kherwadi Police rushed the family to Sion Hospital, where they were declared dead on arrival. Officials said prima facie it appears that the family had consumed rat poison. A suicide note, written in Hindi, was recovered from the house, where the family claimed they were committing suicide due to financial stress and that nobody was responsible for their death. The Kherwadi police have registered an accidental death report (ADR).

The grieving relatives of Bhingares outside their home in Bandra East. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The grieving relatives of Bhingares outside their home in Bandra East. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Financial stress
The incident is starkly similar to that of the Cuffe Parade family - Praveen Patel, 40, his wife Reena, 35, and their son Prabhu, 11 - that also committed suicide due to financial stress. In their suicide note, the Patels had mentioned the tragic death of their six-year-old daughter Pratibha, who died of cancer a few months ago, the extreme poverty they were facing and frequent disagreements with neighbours in the colony. They also blamed around 60 people for their death.

Meanwhile, relatives of the Bhingares were unaware of the financial condition of the family, and were shocked that they all had agreed to the suicide pact. "The family was stressed as they did not have a permanent home," said an official with the Kherwadi Police, on condition of anonymity.

Vaishali Sonawane, Rajesh's sister, who lives in Vakola, said, "Rajesh and Ashwini were supposed to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on Sunday and we were all planning to have a small get-together. This incident has shaken us all. Tushar was trying to get a work visa for a job overseas. None of them ever spoke about any mental or financial pressure."

Rajesh's second sister Bharti Bhingare, was in complete shock. She spent 15 days every month with the family, and was still not aware of her brother's financial condition. "I have lost everything. They never told me anything," she said.

Parthasarathi Mondal, Social scientist, School of development Studies, TISS
Parthasarathi Mondal, Social scientist, School of development Studies, TISS

Maha's battle with suicides
According to Central government data released last year, Maharashtra had the highest incidences of suicides at 16,970 in the year 2015, followed by 15,777 suicides in Tamil Nadu, 14,602 in West Bengal, 10,786 in Karnataka and 10,293 in Madhya Pradesh.

Dr Kersi Chavda, practising psychiatrist and a consultant at Hinduja National Hospital, pointed out that both the Cuffe Parade and Bandra suicides were not suicide pacts, but suicide-murders, where the parents, who wanted to kill themselves, also dragged their children along, because they thought nobody would look after them. "These kinds of suicides are almost invariably because of severe depression, and, in some rare cases, a psychotic set of parents. The depression could be related to a number of factors, but, ultimately, it happens when the individual has fallen into the depths of despair, and starts feeling that the spouse and the children won't survive without him/her either. The entire viewpoint is jaundiced, but this is one way they rationalise," Chavda added.

Social scientist Parthasarathi Mondal, a faculty member at the Centre for Social Theory, School of Development Studies, TISS, said that while it was too preliminary to comment on these cases, if one took a "specific look at them, the immediate precipitating factor, was personal matters".

"A general social circumstance and policy decisions that perpetuate a feeling of not being able to exercise control, increases the propensity for such drastic decisions. There is an existential paralysis. There are several ways of getting out of this, but this one way is not to be glorified. Unfortunately, policy-makers don't see this as an issue," he said.
With inputs by Benita Fernando

Also read: Three of family found dead in south Mumbai's Cuffe Parade area

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