Family issues behind Kerala mother-daughter suicides

Thiruvananthapuram, May 15 A suicide note recovered on Wednesday from the home of the 41-year-old mother and her 19-year-old daughter, who set themselves ablaze a day before, has revealed that family issues were behind the extreme step, and was not provoked by the risk that their home would be seized by bank officials for non-repayment of housing loan.

Lekha and her daughter, Vaishnavi, doused themselves with kerosene and ignited the fuel in their bedroom on Tuesday. Hearing their cries, neighbours rushed in to rescue by breaking open the doors. While Vaishnavi died on the spot, her mother passed away at the hospital.

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The police probe team that arrived on the scene on Wednesday saw mother's suicide note stuck on the wall in another room. A message written on the wall held four people are responsible for the twin suicides - Lekha's husband, Chandran, her mother in law, her sister and the sister's husband.

The note also said that Lekha was taken to a person specializing in black magic.

Speaking to the media later, the police official investigating the case said there was no mention of any bank recovery proceedings in the note, which said that Lekha was being constantly harassed by her mother-in-law.

"The letter reveals everything and we have taken all the four into custody and have recorded their arrest. The charge levelled at the moment is that of abetting suicide and the probe will continue," the official said.

Chandran, however, told reporters that he has no clue about why he has been taken into custody by the police.

"I was abroad and returned just six months back. I knew that my mother and my wife were often engaged in verbal duels. I have no other clue at all," said Chandran, while his mother said she is also innocent and has done no wrong.

"I had given my consent to sell the house, after recovery proceedings began. I have done nothing wrong," Chandran's mother said.

There was a huge public outcry on Tuesday after it surfaced that Canara Bank officials have been after the family for recovery of the balance of housing loan.

On Wednesday morning, various political outfits protested against the Canara Bank, while Congress party activists went on a rampage here causing damage to the regional office of the bank.

Thereafter, three branches of the bank near the home of the suicide victims remained shut as a matter of precaution.

The protests were called off, however, when it emerged that the suicides were provoked by family issues.

In an official statement on Tuesday, Canara Bank had said Chandran had availed a Rs 5 lakh loan in 2005, which was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in 2010, and that legal proceedings had been initiated in the matter.