A day after a middle-aged couple from western Odisha district of Jharsuguda was allegedly charred to death by a fire triggered by a coal-fired stove, the police said the couple was murdered by their nephews and nieces.
On Friday morning, 40-year-old Geeta Das Panka caught fire while lighting a coal-fired stove inside her house in Rampur Punjabi Dhuda village under Brajarajnagar police station area of Jharsuguda district. Her husband, 45-year-old Giriwar Das Panka, who owned a paan shop, too was burnt to death while trying to save her. When the son of the deceased couple returned from tuition, he saw his parents burning and later informed the neighbours and relatives who reached the spot and informed the Brajrajnagar police.
Though the police initially registered a case of unnatural death taking it to be an accident, subsequent investigations revealed that nephews and nieces of the couple had murdered them.
Brajarajnagar sub-divisional police officer Dilip Das said the couple was first murdered by their nephews and nieces and then set on fire to make it look like an accident. “It was a case of pre-meditated murder. The five nephews and nieces of the deceased couple had killed them as they were unhappy over Giriwar allegedly cornering a huge chunk of the retirement benefits of their grandfather who worked in Mahanadi Coalfields Limited,” said Das.
Police said the accused have been arrested and identified as Deepak Das Panka (28), Rahul Das Panka, Supriya Das Panka (25), Miran Das Panka (24), and Sunita Das Panka (27). They were forwarded to the court soon after their arrest.
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On Friday morning, after Giriwar’s son and daughter left for their tuition, their mother went to the toilet. When Giriwar returned home in the morning, the accused hit him with an iron rod and then attacked with an axe. The accused killed Gita in the same fashion. “The accused then poured kerosene over the dead bodies and set them afire to make it look like a case of accident. When their children returned, the accused pretended as if they had tried to save the couple,” said Jharsuguda SP Rahul PR.
According to the police, Giriwar Das’s father retired and most of his retirement benefits were allegedly cornered by him. “A day before the incident, the Giriwar’s nephews and nieces had requested him to give some money for the treatment of their ailing mother. Resentment was already brewing in the family over Giriwar enjoying their grandfather’s post-retirement benefits. The accused then decided to bump off the couple,” said Das.