The sisters had kept their father’s death a secret and, along with their mother, had been staying with his body at their home in Virar since August 1, police said.
Days after a 72-year-old man died of a suspected heart attack, one of his two daughters died by suicide at a beach in Virar (west) on Tuesday while the other was saved by passers-by at the same beach on Wednesday.
The sisters had kept their father’s death a secret and, along with their mother, had been staying with his body at their home in Virar since August 1, police said. The man’s death came to light when the police visited his home on Wednesday, following the rescue of the second daughter, police added.
A retired rationing officer, Haridas Saharkar had been staying at a small rented flat at Brooklyn apartments, in Virar’s Gokul Township, with his wife Vijya, 68, and daughters Swapnali, 36, and Vidya, 40, for the last several years.
“The two daughters would often get into arguments with their father over their unmarried status and unemployment. Both of them are graduates but were unemployed and Saharkar’s pension was the only source of family income,” said a police officer.
On August 3, after staying home with their father’s body for two days, the daughters decided to end their lives, police said. But when Swapnali was asleep, Vidya left home by herself on Tuesday night, they added. “When Swapnali woke up on Wednesday morning, she knew why Vidya was missing, and she, too, headed out to the Navapur beach where her sister had ended her life a day back. Swapnali was saved by people from walking into the sea. She identified Vidya’s body, which was found on the Navapur beach. After questioning her, police realised her father’s body was lying at home,” police said.
When the police personnel reached their home, they were hit by a strong stench emanating from inside, said an official. “The man’s wife, who is said to be mentally disturbed, was found in the room. The family had used a lot of naphthalene balls and camphor to get rid of the smell. Local residents said though they did notice an odour, they presumed it was a dead rat and did not interfere,” police said.
Raju Mane, senior police inspector of Arnala police station, said, “We have sent Vijya to an old age home in Palghar while Swapnali has been sent for rehabilitation to a rescue centre in Bhoisar where she will be counselled.”
Asked if foul play was suspected in Saharkar’s death, Mane replied, “No, we do not suspect any foul play but we have sent his viscera samples to the forensic lab. He is suspected to have died of a heart attack. There are no injury marks. The daughter told us that they feared their father may have died due to Covid-19 and that they would be quarantined or admitted to hospital if they informed police. They were facing financial issues as well.”
The police said the family kept to themselves and hardly interacted with their neighbours.
The Arnala police performed the last rites of the man and his older daughter on Wednesday as the surviving daughter and her mother were not “in a proper state of mind”.
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