Hisar: The pictures from the scene of the crime are harrowing: a mother and her three children — two teenage daughters and an 11-year-old son — lying battered in a blood-spattered bedroom, their last moments clearly spent amid uncontrolled violence. The photos show severe injuries all over the victims’ bodies, and police sources say they were repeatedly beaten to death by a roomba (a large iron rod).
There are some signs, yet to be confirmed, that they were fed sedatives-laced kheer by their killer before the attack.
The killer, according to the police, is Ramesh Verma, 45, the woman’s husband and the father of the three children. He too died on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, but a few kilometres away from the house, which is located in Nangthala village, Hisar, Haryana. A vehicle hit him while he was standing in the middle of Agroha Road, and he was declared dead at the hospital Monday morning. In a suicide letter, Verma allegedly confessed to the killings.
A senior police officer in Hisar told ThePrint that the authorities first learned of Ramesh Verma’s death, and only later made the grisly discovery at the family home. “We received a call at 5am that Verma was lying on the main Agroha road. He was brought to the hospital and declared dead. When [the police] went to inform the family about his death, their bodies were found in the house,” the officer said.
The police officer added that the police have registered a murder case and forensic reports are awaited about the exact cause of death. “There were multiple fatal wounds on their bodies. It wasn’t just one strike on their heads, but also across the neck, chest. Only after the reports, it will be known if they were fed sleeping pills or some other chemical substance,” the officer said.
However, there is little doubt about who annihilated the outwardly happy family, according to police sources. “Suicide notes” discovered at the scene of the crime, apparently written by Ramesh Verma, provide an insight into his state of mind, they add.
Relatives and neighbours of the Vermas also told ThePrint — perhaps in hindsight — that despite the trappings of normalcy, there seemed to be something “wrong” about the family.
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A house surrounded by flowers, birds
The Verma home is one of the most attractive addresses in this Hisar neighbourhood.
There is a tall neem tree in the front yard, while the back garden is full of roses and marigolds. More unusually, there are about 70 little dwellings for birds, including nests, cages, birdhouses.
“He was a real animal lover. He has never even killed a cheenti (ant),” Verma’s uncle Sitaman told ThePrint. Several other neighbours and relatives also described Verma in similar terms.
Ramesh Verma made a living by running a printing press for wedding cards, but his real passion was for nature, those who knew him said, adding that his photography has even appeared in blogs and feature articles.
On his Facebook page, Verma shared visuals of himself holding snakes, lizards, chameleons. Some of these videos had religious songs playing in the background and captions providing information about the animals.
There are also photos of his three children — Anushka (15), Deepika (13) and Keshav (11) — in the garden, with the youngest handling snakes with aplomb. In these curated pictures and videos, the family looks happy. Verma’s mother Omvati, who lives with her other son just 200 metres from the house, and his uncle Sitaman describe him as “well-behaved” and “dharmic (dutiful)”.
In the house — where the doorway is decorated with a placard saying “Jai Shree Ram Swagatam” and a painting of Lord Ganesha — there are a few photos of the children and some of a college-age Verma with friends. In the hall, there is a large photo of Anushka.
As men and women from the village mourned at Omvati’s house, the conversations revolved around a sense of disbelief— that everything “seemed fine”.
Asked if Ramesh Verma was religious or followed any deity, his family members said they were not aware. “He would only worship Shiva, that too when he held snakes,” Verma’s paternal cousin Sanjay said.
When asked for a photo of the 45-year-old with his family, Verma’s brother Sunil and other family members said they had none. “When they shifted, they took all the wedding albums and photos,” Omvati said.
Verma started ‘acting differently’ about a year and a half ago
Although many people insisted that the Verma family was “ordinary” in every respect, others in the community suggested that there had been signs for a while that all was not well.
Subhash, who runs a kirana (small provisions) store near the Verma house, said he “wouldn’t interact with anyone”. “His wife and children would also hardly step out,” he said.
A neighbourhood friend of Keshav had a similar impression of the family. “Whenever I would go to call Keshav to play outside, there would be excuses ready. They went to school, fed snakes and birds, and then slept,” he said.
Sunil and Sanjay offered more insight. Sanjay said Verma was “mentally disturbed” while Sunil said his personality changed after a bike accident a year and a half ago. “Ramesh had been acting differently since his accident. He hurt his neck, couldn’t speak for days, and that’s when he changed forever,” Sunil said.
Purported suicide notes mention desire for ‘salvation’
Police sources say they found “suicide notes” in Verma’s pockets and in the house. These included an 11-page letter, accessed by ThePrint, in which Verma purportedly wrote at length about his state of mind.
In this purported note, Verma claimed he was not “mentally ill” but wanted to kill himself in order to leave behind a false life and attain “moksh (salvation)”.
He couldn’t leave his “innocent children” behind, he wrote. As for his wife, 38-year-old Savita, he said he was acting in accordance with her wish to always be together, “zinda ya murda (dead or alive)”.
Asking for forgiveness, he confessed in this letter to giving the family sleeping pills and taking their lives.
“Mujhe moksh shanti chahiye thi (I wanted the peace that comes with salvation),” he wrote. “I have fulfilled all my life’s dreams. Today my writing is different. I have no debts,” he wrote, mentioning the name of a person who owed him Rs 2 lakh and who that money should be given to.
In the rambling letter, Verma meditated upon his early years, his realisation of the “mysteries” of life, his father’s death in 2006, and how he was forced into a “worldly life” and often “misunderstood”. He wrote that his brother and other family members were “greedy” and that, as he grew older, he lost control of his anger.
The letter also revealed some parallels between the Hisar case and that of the 2018 Burari deaths in Delhi. Like Lalit Bhatia, who is believed to have led his family to their deaths in 2018, Verma was preoccupied with the death of his father.
Verma wrote that though he was “different from the rest since childhood”, his “destruction” started with the death of his father. He wrote:
“Why are we on earth, what is the mystery, what are people running from? After going to college, everything appeared fake, nothing gave me happiness. When I was in this dilemma, my father passed away and this is the onset of my destruction. I was forced into marriage so that I could take care of my mother and brother…
… My mind has been that of a hermit for the last 15 years, I wanted salvation but couldn’t leave the household. I am always misunderstood so I started living in a shell. Then I built a new house and lived separately but nothing was right, everyone distanced themselves from me because they were greedy. I couldn’t control my anger with age.”
Verma blamed his brother for taking over the paternal property, but Sunil and their mother Omvati refuted this. “He never objected to anything. He was a good son and his wife was also extremely good,” Omvati said, sobbing uncontrollably.
The 45-year-old also referenced three earlier suicide attempts, including one in which he tried to electrocute himself by putting a naked wire in his mouth. “Oh, I just realised, I can’t get electrocuted,” he wrote.
The last few lines in Verma’s note seem to have been written just before his suicide. “I’m going to the road to finish the body’s murder. It’s 4am and I have left my house. Inform Agroha [police station],” he wrote.
Verma signed off with some instructions: “Always keep my house locked, my soul will reside there. Don’t take my ashes to Haridwar, instead put them in the trees and plants of the shamshan ghat (cremation grounds).”
When asked whether the family had followed through with these wishes, Verma’s brother Sunil said the ashes of the entire family had been taken to Haridwar.
This report has been edited to remove one quote from Ramesh Verma’s brother Sunil.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)
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