Editor of Kannada tabloid, sons-in-law arrested for abetting suicide of four family members

The deaths of Hallegere Shankar’s wife, two daughters and a son came to light on September 17

The Bengaluru police have arrested the editor of a local Kannada tabloid in connection with the suicide deaths of his wife, two daughters and a son last month. The husbands of the deceased daughters have also been arrested.

The four deaths and the murder of a nine-month-old infant at the palatial North Bengaluru residence of Hallegere Shankar (59), the editor of Shasakara Patrike (Legislators Paper), came to light on the evening of September 17 when he returned home after five days.

Shankar’s two-year-old granddaughter had miraculously survived for nearly four days after the others died. The toddler was captured by television cameras clinging to her grandfather later that day.

In his initial statement to the police, Shankar blamed his wife Bharathi (54) for the tragedy saying she had forced unhappiness on his daughters Sinchana Kumari (32) and Sindhu Rani (29) by forcing them to separate from their husbands. He said he had left the house earlier that week following a financial dispute with his family members.

The police, however, found a note written by his son Madhusagar (25) which blamed Shankar for the extreme step being taken by those in the family. The note allegedly said Shankar had been disregarding the family and had relationships with several women.

Cops in Bengaluru’s Byadarahalli initially viewed it as a case of unnatural deaths that occurred between September 12 and 17. On September 29, the police registered a case of murder after forensic reports indicated that the nine-month-old infant – Sindhu’s son – had been strangulated to death.

On October 1, the Byadarahalli police registered an FIR against Shankar and his sons-in-law Srikanth and Praveen Kumar for abetment to suicide by mentally and physically torturing the deceased. Following this, all three were arrested.

While post-mortem reports attributed the deaths to hanging, police said the FIR was registered on the basis of the death note written by Sindhu which said she was constantly harassed and tortured by her father and husband Srikanth.

On another note, reportedly recovered by the police, Shankar’s elder daughter Sinchana claimed that she was constantly harassed by her husband and in-laws. The police also took into consideration the note by Madhusagar which accused Shankar of harassment. Cops said the case was registered after consultations with legal experts.

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