Couple set themselves on fire over grief of childlessness


In a tragic incident, a childless couple allegedly committed suicide by setting themselves ablaze at Hirgana village near Karkala in Udupi district.


Sitaram Acharya (55) and his wife Sunanda Acharya (45) were living in a house in a slightly isolated area at Hirgana village. The couple were childless but religious-minded.

According to the Karkala Town Police, inability to produce children might have prompted the couple to commit suicide by immolating themselves in a room of their house.

It appeared to be a planned act. The incident had taken place between 1.30 p.m. on December 22 and 7 a.m. on December 24. N.N. Ravi, Sub-Inspector of Karkala Town Police Station, said that the incident of suicide must have taken place two days ago as they had found only ash and bones.

A lot of camphor, incense sticks and sandalwood pieces were found in the room (“Devara Kone”) where they immolated themselves. According to the neighbours, the couple had stored a lot of wooden logs in the house, which were now missing, he said.

The incident came to light after a neighbour went to the house at around 9 a.m. on Saturday and found that the clay roof tiles of a portion of the house had been burnt. Both the front and rear doors of the house were locked from inside. The locals later broke the doors open.

Though there were two houses in the area, they were located some distance away from Acharya’s house. The people of the nearest house had gone away for two days, when the incident took place. The locals had last seen the couple on December 22.

“No note was recovered from the house. Experts from the Forensic Department visited the spot,” Mr. Ravi said. To a query, Mr. Ravi said that it could not be said with absolute certainty that the couple had taken the extreme step because they were childless.

A case of unnatural death under Section 174 of Criminal Procedure Code was registered at the Karkala Town Police Station. Investigation is on, the police said.

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