Sangli: 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 on Monday, police said in what appears to be a case of suicide pact, while preliminary probe suggests the duo had heavily borrowed money from various people.
The Sangli police registered a case of abetment to suicide against 25 people after the deaths, which took place at two separate homes of the brothers in Mhaisal village.
Suicide notes were found at the homes, located 1.5km apart in the village, over 350km from the state capital Mumbai, an official said.
"Based on the names mentioned in the notes found at the spots, we have registered a case of abetment to suicide against 25 people," said Dikshit Gedam, Superintendent of Police, Sangli.
The police suspect the deceased consumed some poisonous substance.
Asked how much money they had borrowed from people and for what purpose, the SP said there was a mention of "business" in the notes but details were still being gathered.
"In the suicide notes, it was mentioned that they (the brothers) wanted the money for some "business". This will be investigated later," said Gedam.
The police said the deceased included two brothers - Popat Vanmore (54), Dr Manik Vanmore (49) - their mother (74), wives and four children and it is suspected they might have some consumed poisonous substances to end their lives.
While Popat Vanmore was a teacher, Manik Vanmore worked as a veterinary doctor, they said.
"Prima facie, it looks that the family members of the two brothers have ended their lives. As per information received so far, both the brothers had borrowed money from various people. We are trying to establish the sequence of events as both the spots (houses where bodies were found) are 1.5km away from each other," said Manojkumar Lohiya, Inspector General (Kolhapur range).
He said six bodies were found in Manik Vanmore's house - his own, those of his wife, mother, daughter, son and nephew (son of Popat Vanmore), while Popat Vanmore, his wife and daughter's bodies were found in the latter's residence.
"The content in the notes suggests they had a lot of borrowing. However, we are probing the case from all angles," said the officer.
The deceased daughter of Popat Vanmore, Archana (29), used to work in a bank, he said.
Besides the two brothers and Archana Vanmore, the other deceased were identifed by the police as Sangita Popat Vanmore (46), Shubham Popat Vanmore (24), Rekha Manik Vanmore (43), Pratiksha Manik Vanmore (20), Aditya Manik Vanmore (16) and Akkatai Vanmore (74).
Asked murmurs in the village about the family being involved in a 'rice puller' deal or any treasure hunt, SP Gedam said all these are "theories" and they do not have anything to substantiate them at the moment.
There were talks in Mhaisal that the two brothers were involved in a rice puller deal in which a gang had promised that if they find a 'rice puller' object they would get hefty returns. The two brothers had been reportedly borrowing money to explore such a deal with the gang.
"Rice-puller" scams are common in rural parts of the country. Gangs carrying out such scams try to convince people to invest in machines that test copper-iridium, an alloy which they claim is highly valuable for its magnetic power, and go about demonstrating this quality by "pulling rice", usually a trick involving mixing the grains with iron particles.
Inspector General Lohiya said one of the brothers, Popat Vanmore, had received recovery notices from some credit institutions.
Asked how the incident came to light, the IG said a girl from the village had gone to Manik Vanmore's house to find out why nobody had come to fetch milk from them as was the daily routine and found the bodies.
"When some people went to the house of Popat Vanmore to inform him about what they saw in his brother's home, they found dead bodies there too," Lohiya said.
The IG said as per primary information, a poisonous substance was consumed by the family members, but only a detailed investigation and postmortem report will throw light on the exact cause of the death.
Meanwhile, a person present at the time of 'panchnama' (crime scene inspection) said the bodies were lying at separate places (rooms) in both the houses.
"It is learnt that the family had dinner outside on Sunday," said the man, requesting anonymity.
The local resident said the daughter of Popat Vanmore used to work in a bank in Kolhapur and she and her grandmother (the deceased mother of Vanmore brothers) had come to the house just on Sunday.