Fed up of domestic violence and an ancestral property dispute, two women relatives teamed up, searched about methods to kill on internet, sourced a slow poison — Thallium — from Telangana, and allegedly poisoned five of their family members in Mahagaon village in Gadchiroli over a period of one month, police said.
According to police, the two women — Sanghamitra Kumbhare (22) and Rosa Ramteke (36) — who were arrested on Wednesday, planned meticulously over two months and executed the plan between mid-September and October 15.
The incident came to light after suspicion grew over the mysterious deaths of five family members in a month. Besides the five who lost their lives to slow poisoning, two family members and a driver are admitted to hospital with similar symptoms.
Sanghamitra, who originally hails from Akola, married Roshan Kumbhare in December 2022. “Her parents were against the relationship and she eventually eloped with Roshan and moved into their house at Mahagaon in Gadchiroli,” said a police officer.
She stayed there with Roshan, his parents Shankar and Vijaya, and his sister Komal. All four, along with Varsha Urade, sister of Vijaya, were victims of the plan executed by Sanghamitra and Ramteke, who is the sister-in-law of Vijaya.
According to police, Sanghamitra’s marriage did not turn out to be the expected way and she allegedly faced domestic violence at the hands of her husband. Other family members ill-treated as well, police said.
“Her in-laws would constantly taunt her while her husband assaulted her at times. When Sanghamitra’s father came to know about this, she died by suicide in Akola by hanging himself in April this year. This added to her trauma,” said police.
During Raksha Bandhan festival, Sanghamitra wanted to go home to celebrate with her family but Roshan and his parents allegedly did not allow her. As she kept insisting, a fight broke out in the family when Roshan allegedly assaulted her.
“While Sanghamitra sat crying outside the house, her aunt-in-law Rosa Ramteke saw her and consoled her. Sanghamitra confided in her and told that she feels like killing them,” said an officer.
Ramteke, who had an ancestral property dispute with Roshan’s family, saw an opportunity and started provoking her further against them.
“Vijaya had three sisters and a brother; Ramteke is her sister-in-law. Vijaya’s father had a four-acre land and she was pushing for equal distribution of the property among the five siblings. However, Ramteke felt that the property should only go to her husband (the only son in the family),” a senior police officer said.
She assured Sanghamitra that she would help her kill the family members, said the officer. Since then the two started searching for methods to kill on Google. Initially, they ordered a poisonous flower online to mix it in their food but they eventually dropped it because they feared getting caught.
Later they learnt that Thallium is a slow-killer and they could add it to the food of the family members, without leaving any trace behind.
In mid-September, the duo procured Tthallium from Telangana after and started mixing it in food. Police are yet to ascertain how they procured Thallium.
In her confession to police, Sanghamitra said that she mixed Thallium in a non-veg food item of Shankar, Vijaya and Komal, while for Roshan, she mixed it in dal (lentil). Ramteke took the responsibility of administering Thallium to Varsha Urade, who is Vijaya’s sister.
On September 20, Shankar and Vijaya complained of tingling in the limbs, severe lower back ache and head ache, as they got blackened lips and a heavy tongue. They were admitted to a hospital at Aheri from where they were shifted to a hospital in Chandrapur and subsequently to a private hospital in Nagpur. But before the doctors could diagnose the illness, Shankar died on September 26, while Vijaya died the next day.
“While their children were recovering from the loss, health of Komal, Urade and Roshan also deteriorated. They were also admitted to hospital and died on October 8, 14 and 15 respectively,” said an investigator. However, due to the symptoms they all had, the medical officer suspected that all of them were poisoned.
Accordingly, the Gadchiroli police started a probe and took Sanghamitra to the police station for inquiry.
“We got suspicious of her role as she was the only person in that house who did not develop any symptoms. However, when she saw Roshan in the hospital, she started feeling guilty and asked the doctors to check whether there is any poison inside him,” said an investigator.
During interrogation, the woman confessed to the crime and revealed the role of her accomplice as well. Ramteke was also taken to the police station who confessed to have mixed the poison in Urade’s food.
Police added that three other persons, including their driver, were also poisoned in a similar way and they are currently recuperating in different hospitals.
“The two women were produced before court and remanded in police custody for 10 days. We suspect that more people are involved in the crime. We are trying to identify them,” said Superintendent of Police Neelotpal.
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