Sangli suicide: Money lenders under lens, 20 arrested so far

The death of nine from a family

On the afternoon of June 20 around 1 pm, two brothers Dr Manik Vanmore (49), a veterinarian and Popat Vanmore (52), an arts teacher, their mother, their wives, four children of the two couples — were found dead in two separate houses located a kilometre apart in Mhaisal. The families had moved to their present houses from their ancestral home in Mhaisal seven years ago. Preliminary examination pointed to consumption of a poisonous substance causing the death of all the nine persons. Dead bodies of Dr Manik, his mother Akkatai (72), Manik’s wife Rekha (45), their children Anita (28) and Aditya (15) and Popat’s son Shubham (28) were found dead at Manik’s house. Bodies of Popat, his wife Sangeeta (48) and daughter Archana (30) were found at Popat’s house. While neighbours paint a picture of a mild mannered and an aloof family, close family friends say that the Vanmore’s had been under stress in the recent past because of debt.

How did the incident come to light?

On Monday morning, some people who had routine contacts with the family in the morning hours, got suspicious after the family members did not respond to them. The milkman who delivered the milk daily did not get any response to the knocks on the door, nor did the staffers at Dr Manik’s clinic get any response to their calls. Some people contacted a distant relative of the family who stays close by and asked her to come. When the relative and some others looked inside from the back door, they saw people lying on the ground unresponsive. Some people were sent to Popat’s house to tell them what had happened, and three more family members were found unconscious. Meanwhile, the police arrived and after preliminary medical examination, all nine were pronounced dead.

At the residence of the Vanmore family in Maharashtra’s Sangli district Tuesday. (Express photo by Arul Horizon)

What has the police investigation revealed till now?

The starting point of the investigation were the two suspected suicide notes recovered from the two houses. The notes suggest that the family members took the extreme step because of heavy debt. Based on the probe into the content of the suicide notes, the police initially booked 25 persons, most of whom had lend money to the family members and were allegedly pressuring them for repayment.

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In the first set of arrests made late on Monday and on Tuesday, the Sangli district police apprehended 15 persons from the 25 suspects named in the case. On Wednesday, the Sangli district police made five more arrests in the case, taking the total number of arrests to 20 till now.

“The Vanmore brothers and some other members of their family had borrowed money on interest from the accused persons, most of whom the police have said are moneylenders. Although the brothers were regularly paying the interest amount, the lenders and other accused persons were repeatedly and publicly harassing them — mentally and physically,” the police have said, adding that the deceased persons ended their lives after the harassment became unbearable.

A senior police officer who did not wish to be named has said, “The suicide notes say that the family wanted to set up a steel item manufacturing unit and for that they had borrowed money. But we are verifying whether this is true and whether there was any actual movement towards setting up such a plant. We are trying to find out whether or not there are any more lenders. We are also probing how and under what circumstances were these loans taken and how was the money used.”

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