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Friday, July 29, 2011

3 of reclusive thane family found dead

rticle rank
22 Jul 2011
Times of India Mumbai edition
Nitin Yeshwantrao

3 of reclusive Thane family found dead in their flat
Police Found Stench In Hideously Dirty Thane Flat Unbearable

Thane: Three members of a family of four were found dead under unusual circumstances in their one-room flat in Thane on Wednesday night. The fourth member, a 39-year-old woman, was found in the stairwell and it was she who told the police about her mother, brother and sister lying dead inside. Kunda (39), who was found sitting in the stairwell, was the only one who would step out of the house occasionally. It was she who told the police about the death of her mother and siblings
Pics: Anil Shinde

“They lived a strange life and their deaths were stranger,” DCP Ashok Morale, said, adding that the neighbours had informed them about the family.

It’s still not clear if the trio had died on the same day. But the police have ruled out foul play since no injuries were found on the bodies. While the post-mortem report is expected today, a preliminary medical report said Anandibai Atmaram Halankar (70), her daughter Vasanti (43) and son Shivshankar (40) were acutely diabetic and may have died of malnourishment and shock. The neighbours said the Halankars were mentally ill and had confined themselves to their flat, in what was perhaps reminiscent of last month’s discovery of a 70year-old woman and her daughter living without water and electricity in their Bandra flat. They said the family had resided in the flat for over 10 years, but had literally imprisoned themselves within its four walls. “Kunda, the woman found alive, was the only one who would step out occasionally to buy grocery or withdraw money from the pension account of her father. A Bombay Port Trust employee, the father had died in early 1990s.”

When the police entered their third-floor flat in Anupama Society, Hazuri, they found it hideously dirty. “Also, the stench was unbearable,” said an officer. “With the flat in this state, Kunda may have been indoors for at least 12 hours. She displays no emotion and is incoherent. Going by her frail frame, unkempt hair and dirty clothes, she looks to be of unsound mind. It looks mental illness runs in the family,” he added. “The neighbours told us the house was never painted in these 10 years. The television set was covered in cloth and the room was littered with waste. It looked like a dump yard.”

The police found the bodies lying close. “When we questioned Kunda, she said her brother died first, followed by her mother and elder sister,” Morale said. “When we asked her why she hadn’t informed the neighbours or the police, her reply was a cryptic, “Just like that.”

“The family’s only contact with the outside world was through a Marathi newspaper. But the last two days’ papers were at the door, lying unread. The delivery boy said the family paid their bills regularly. However, he said he never went too close to the flat because of the bad odour inside.” Kunda has been admitted to Thane Civil Hospital.

A stunned silence prevailed in the building as its residents recalled a similar incident that took place in the Halankar family eight years ago, when the eldest daughter had allegedly starved herself to death. “Vrinda passed away in similar circumstances,” said Anand Shetty, a neighbour. “She kept to herself all the time. Apparently, she had a fight with her brother, who objected to her watching television. She gave up food and water in a fit of rage. Next we heard she had died.”

Rajendra Chavan, the building’s secretary, said: “To our surprise, the cupboard in the flat had a vault with a big stash of cash and heavy gold jewellery.”

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