Recent incidents of murder in the Capital are aptly illustrative of the paradigm shift in inter-personal relationships, says Devesh K. Pandey

Recent incidents of murder in the Capital committed or masterminded by relatives and acquaintances considered close to the victims or their families, primarily for financial considerations, is a trend that has perturbed the police and mental health experts alike. These crimes have left them wondering about the fast changing equations of human relationships wherein the lust for the lucre has dealt a severe blow to the emotional bond that people share.

At Kalkaji in South Delhi last month a man allegedly hired contract killers to get his sister and brother-in-law eliminated in a bid to stake a claim on their share of the multi-crore property left behind by his father. In another macabre incident in Lajpat Nagar, a man allegedly bludgeoned his mother-in-law and sister-in-law to death before decamping with about Rs.6 lakh in cash.

Investigations into the murder of 18-year-old Sanchit Sachdeva at Lodhi Colony a few days ago also revealed that he was brutally killed allegedly by two men, including a retired Indian Navy officer, well known to him. According to the police, the murder was committed with robbery as motive.

Such incidents are aptly illustrative of the paradigm shift in inter-personal relationships in large urban centres like Delhi. “This shows that people with a criminal bent of mind have no qualms in targeting even their own relatives and friends for monetary gains,” says a senior police officer.

For clinical psychologist Aruna Broota, such incidents serve as good indicators of the degeneration in the social value system caused by the kind of lifestyle people have chosen to lead. “Any normal human being, however acute the level of frustration, cannot take someone else’s life,” she said, adding that a social psychologist would look at it as a consequence of isolation and reprioritising human life with money.

According to Dr. Broota, fast-changing lifestyles have resulted in impulse-control disorders, causing impatience. She attributes this situation to the kind of socialisation that everyone goes through during infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood, where we prioritise material goods over human relationships. “Today we entrust our children to domestic helps and attendants rather than to neighbours. The values of neighbourhood, community and group are on the wane,” she notes.

Mental health expert Rajat Mitra sees such incidents as indicative of extreme emotions at play that have led to a complete breakdown of human bonds and relationships and also triggered a quick sense of betrayal and humiliation in a person. “Such extreme emotions occasionally translate into homicidal tendencies,” says Dr. Mitra.

Dr. Broota, however, sees a silver lining in the dark sky. “Things will change, like it happened in New York where nuclear families realised the importance of mothers-in-law in raising kids. Realising the ill-effects of employing baby sitters on the normal growth of their children, they decided to rather entrust them to their grandparents,” says Dr. Broota, adding that the change would come here as well. All it requires is the realisation.