Slits throats of wife and mother, stabs daughter and jumps in front of train; debt believed to be cause

A 48-year-old businessman of Sri Lankan Tamil origin murdered his wife, mother and 13-year-old daughter, minutes before jumping in front of an electric train and killing himself in Pazhavanthangal early on Tuesday morning.

The incident sent shockwaves through the quiet neighbourhood of Thillaiganga Nagar, where the family had lived. While locals say the murders-suicide were a result of pressure exerted by moneylenders, police have ruled out any such possibility.

According to Adambakkam police, the killings took place between 3.45 and 4.30 a.m..

C.J. Sundaresan, the owner of a travel agency, lived with his wife, daughter and mother in a rented flat on 42nd Street, Thillaiganga Nagar. On Monday, Sundaresan had taken his wife and daughter to a theme park on Rajiv Gandhi Salai. They returned home after dinner.

Early on Tuesday morning, Sundaresan got up and slit the throat of his wife Chitra (40) inside their bedroom, before attacking his mother, 70-year-old Thangamma. He then stabbed his 13-year-old daughter Thamira several times. Thamira is reported to have tried to shout for help. Both Thangamma and Thamira were asleep in the hall when Sundaresan attacked them.

After killing his family, Sundaresan ran out of his home and jumped in front of an electric train between Pazhavanthangal and Nanganallur. He was killed instantly.

However, the driver of the first electric train between Tambaram and Chennai saw Sundaresan jumping on the track and informed staff at St. Thomas Mount railway station. Officers of the government railway police immediately went to the spot. They recovered Sundaresan’s body and also found his mobile phone.

The police called the last-dialled numbers on the phone, and a friend of Sundaresan’s told them where the family lived. When the police arrived at the house, they found the front door open, and the women and child lying in pools of blood.

P. Saravanan, deputy commissioner, St. Thomas Mount, said Sundaresan had used a small but sharp kitchen knife to assault his mother, wife and daughter.

Police said that in addition to owning the travel agency, Sundaresan also rented out vehicles.

Earlier, he owned 5 vehicles, but had to sell three of them in order to pay off debts. Despite these sales, Sundaresan continued to be heavily in debt. This could have led to the murders and his suicide, police said.

According to sources, Sundaresan had taken loans from a few people recently, and at least one of these moneylenders was pressing him to repay the loan.

Sundaresan had said he was unable to pay him, at which the point the moneylender allegedly threatened him. Sundaresan had then approached the police for protection.

According to police sources, the matter was resolved amicably about six months ago with Sundaresan agreeing to repay the money.

The bodies of all the victims were taken to Tambaram Taluk Government Hospital in Chromepet.

Neighbours shocked

The family, originally from Jaffna in Sri Lanka, had settled in Chennai in 1980. They were living in Nanganallur earlier, before moving to Thillaiganga Nagar 10 years ago. “They were a quiet family, and rarely interacted with neighbours. The girl was cheerful and played with rest of the children on the street,” said Amsa, a neighbour.

S. Bhaskaran, a former councillor of Alandur municipality, who also knew the family, said: “Sundaresan was a very soft-spoken person and friendly with everybody. This is a tragic incident.”

Staff at Thamira’s school, Chellammal Vidyalaya in Nanganallur, were shocked when they heard of the incident. Thamira, who had just been promoted to class VIII, exhibited extraordinary team spirit and leadership qualities, a schoolteacher said. She excelled in academics and also took a keen interest in science projects and volunteered to take part in other extra-curricular activities as well.

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