Investigations into the death of nine members of the family of two brothers in Maharashtra's Sangli district, which was earlier suspected to be a case of suicide pact due to harassment by money lenders, revealed that the deceased, including four children, were allegedly poisoned to death by a "mantrik" and his accomplice both of whom arrested, police said on Monday.
As per the preliminary probe, the main accused Abbas Mohammad Ali Bagwan allegedly killed the family of nine with the help of his accomplice as he didn't want to return the money he had taken from them under the pretext of locating a "hidden treasure" for them.
Bagwan and Dheeraj Surawase, both residents of Solapur, allegedly poisoned nine members of the Vanmore family to death by mixing poisonous substance in tea probably on the night of June 19, officials said.
Nine members of a family of two brothers - one of them a teacher and the other a veterinarian - were found dead in Maharashtra's Sangli district's Mhaisal village on June 20.
Police had initially suspected that it was a suicide pact and arrested 15 lenders of the 25 accused on the charges of abetment of suicide of the nine members of the family that had borrowed money from them.
Popat Vanmore (54), who worked as a teacher, his brother and veterinarian Dr Manik Vanmore (49), their 74-year-old mother, wives and four children were found dead at their houses in Mhaisal village of Sangli district on Monday, police had said.
'Suicide' notes were found from the two houses, located 1.5 km apart from each other.
Inspector General of Police (Kolhapur range) Manoj Kumar Lohiya said Bagwan, who is a "mantrik", had taken a huge amount of money from the Vanmore brothers under the pretext of helping them explore "gupt dhan" (hidden treasure) and the family was frequently asking him to return the money as the promise regarding the treasure was not fulfilled.
A Sangli Police official said the police had stumbled upon the notes purportedly left behind by the Vanmore brothers in which they had mentioned the names of some lenders from whom they had borrowed the money.
He said the police felt something was amiss when they examined the suicide notes. Also, a bottle was found with only one of the nine bodies.
"Generally, in a suicide note, the person first writes the reason and then blames the people for the extreme step he is taking. In this case, the names of some people were written at the start of the notes. Both the notes didn't even mention that the family wanted to commit suicide. It seems that the accused might have misled the two brothers to write the names of the money lenders under some pretext to pass it off as a suicide pact," the official said.
Speaking about the investigation, he said the police tracked the movements of all the deceased which led them to a vehicle.
"We then checked the CCTV footages on the roads and finally the vehicle was located in Solapur," he added.
"The preliminary probe suggests that the accused mantrik and his accomplice reached the houses of the Vanmores (probably on June 19) and told them that he (Bagwan) would perform some rituals to find the hidden treasure. They sent the family members to the terrace of their houses, then called them down one by one, and asked them to consume tea which was laced with some poisonous substance," the official said explaining the sequence of events of June 19-20.
Prima facie, Bagwan and Surawase committed the crime by going to the houses of the Vanmore brothers one after the another.
When asked about the motive behind the crime, the official said that police suspect Bagwan killed the family members as they were demanding their money back from Bagwan after he failed to locate the "hidden treasure" for them as promised.
According to police, the Vanmore brothers had given over Rs one crore to Bagwan in the hope that they will find "guptdhan".
Sangli Superintendent of Police, Dikshit Gedam, said Bagwan and Surawase are arrested and section 302 (punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code will be invoked.
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