There is a bunch of policemen. And then there are those two kittens, Ranu and Manya.
That’s all left in the locked home of the “caring” and “animal-loving” family of local vet Dr. Manik Vanmore.
The family members of Manik (49) and his brother Popat (52) on Monday afternoon- A total of nine members – were found dead in their two houses in Mhaisal village A case of suicide by consuming poison has come to light in Sangli district of Maharashtra.
The Reason? According to the police, the harassment “mentally and physically” by moneylenders “repeatedly and publicly”, citing two suicide notes. Fifteen people from the area who allegedly lent money to the brothers have been arrested and police are on the lookout for 10 more suspects.
Even after a day, the whole village is in shock.
The bodies of Manik, his wife Rekha (45), their children Anita (28) and Aditya (15), Manik’s mother Aktai (72) and Popat’s son Shubham (28) were found at the vet’s house. The bodies of art teacher Popat, his wife Sangeeta (48) and daughter Archana (30) were found from their house at a local school about a kilometer away.
“I literally grew up in their house,” said Ashwini Sawant, a close family friend, before the breakup. “They were all very caring and considered me as one of them. From all his special home-cooked dishes to all the big events, I have been there. Less than a week ago, I came to his house for a pani-puri party. They were a happy family and loved animals. But I also know that for the last few years they are under stress due to debt. But we never imagined it.”
According to a police officer, “the suicide note shows that the family wanted to build a manufacturing unit for steel items and had borrowed money”. “The family had borrowed money from a large number of people, even the compounder working in the veterinary clinic,” the official said.
Police are also probing whether the families were implicated in some kind of investment scheme and their money was lost. “Manik uncle used to tell me that he has invested in some scheme and is waiting for higher returns, which will repay the loan and leave him with a huge amount. On one of the two occasions, he had asked me not to come to his house as the lenders had come,” said Sawant, who had moved to their homes from his ancestral home six-seven years ago.
Sangli SP Dixit Gedam said, “We are probing the matter from all possible angles.
“Exactly a day ago, (Manik’s son) Aditya came to my house and we chatted as usual. He was good at studies and college activities. We recently celebrated a friend’s birthday. There seemed to be nothing about him or anyone else in his family,” said Sujal Choundaj, a neighbor and Aditya’s classmate.
Sudhakar Gaikwad, owner of a grocery shop in the neighbourhood, said: “A day before the incident came to light, Dr Manik’s son came to the shop and took a jar of curd and said that his father would pay me later. In the evening, his elder sister came and gave the money saying that there are no dues now.”
According to police inspector Ajay Sindkar, the Vanmore brothers and other family members had borrowed money from moneylenders on interest. “Though they were paying interest regularly, the lender and other accused were repeatedly and publicly harassing them mentally and physically. The victims ended their lives after the harassment became unbearable,” Sindkar said.
“We have sent teams to Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur and Karnataka to trace and arrest 12 other accused.
All the residents arrested so far are: Nandkumar Pawar (52), Rajendra Banne (50), Anil Banne (35), Khanderao Shinde (37), Dr Tatyasaheb Chougule (50), Shailesh Dhumal (56), Prakash Pawar ( 45), Sanjay Bagri (51), Anil Borade (48), Pandurang Ghorpade (56), Shivaji Kore (65), Rekha Chougule (45), Vijay Sutar (55), Ganesh Bamne (45) and Shubhadra Kamble (46) ) )
Police have also invoked SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and Maharashtra Money Lending Regulation Act against the accused.
But all this comes as little consolation for Manik and his family’s estranged neighbor Poonam Chaudaj. “They loved their cats. We have tried to feed them since they died but they are not eating.