Four people of a family were burnt to death over an alleged property dispute between siblings in Katihar district on Sunday night.
A couple and its two daughters were burnt to death in sleep at Coundi village under Barsoi police station, 60 km east of district headquarters Katihar and 305km east of Patna.
The charred bodies of the victims were sent for post mortem examination to the district hospital.
The victims have been identified as Kedar Singh (45), his wife Pratima Devi (40), and their two daughters Dimple Kumari (15) and Soni Kumari (17). Son Laxman Kumar Singh (12), who was sleeping in the other room, managed to escape in the nick of time.
The police have lodged an FIR on the basis of his complaint. The boy has named his uncle Manoj Kumar, younger brother of victim Kedar Singh, as an accused. He is since absconding.
Laxman said, “My uncle used to threaten my parents over a piece of ancestral land, which he wanted to grab and sell. On Sunday, he threatened my father of dire consequences and later at night he set the house ablaze, killing my parents and sisters, who were asleep.”
Laxman’s mother and his sisters died on the spot while his father Kedar died at the Katihar Medical College Hospital (KMCH) during treatment. Kedar was initially taken to the Katihar sadar (district) hospital, where doctors referred him to the medical college.
Locals said the accused Manoj was a habitual gambler and used to invest money in lottery. “He wanted to sell a chunk of land, held as a joint property with his brother Kedar. Manoj killed his brother when Kedar resisted,” said some villagers. They even alleged that Manoj was a habitual drunkard and often spent time gambling in West Bengal.
Confirming the incident, Katihar superintendent of police Siddharth Mohan Jain said, “The accused escaped soon after the incident.”
The police said it was in contact with the West Bengal police and confident of arresting the accused.
Katihar has been infamous for killings over property dispute. Two years ago a family of four, including two minor children, were burnt to death over a land dispute. They were sleeping when some villagers locked them from outside and set their house ablaze.