The woman killed in the mysterious fire at south-east Delhi’s Zakir Nagar was paranoid about a tooth problem that had been tormenting her for months, said her family and neighbours.
Yasmin Alam even suspected it to be cancer after she detected pus oozing from her gums. But her fears were laid to rest after a dentist extracted the tooth about a week ago.
“But three days ago my wife heard her telling someone over the phone that she would not live for long,” said Yasmin’s neighbour Shahid. He is unable to decipher if that statement from the victim had any relation to the tragedy that struck the family.
In the absence of any logical reason, Yasmin’s health is being seen by her neighbours as what could have prompted a possible ‘suicide’.
Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman, maternal uncle of Yasmin’s husband Feroze Alam, told Deccan Herald she was “mentally disturbed” due to her health issues.
Yasmin had briefly fallen unconscious on Wednesday afternoon, but neighbours had not read much into it then.
Otherwise the family was a happy family, mostly seen minding their own business. “Feroze occasionally greeted us whenever he came across us. But it was limited to that,” said his neighbour Shahid. The children had been receiving education at government schools in the area.
The family from Vaishali in Bihar had been married for the last 15 years or so and had been living in that house for the almost five years, but Shahid said they had visited his house only once. “They had lunch at my house during Eid last year,” he said.
While most neighbours said they never heard the couple fight, Feroze’s immediate neighbour till two months ago, Naim Beg told Deccan Herald that he saw him slap Yasmin occasionally.
“But they were minor fights seen in most families. We never thought such a tragedy could befall the family,” said Beg.
Feroze had only recently bought a one-bedroom flat in another lane of the same locality and was to shift there this Sunday. “They were progressing in their business. He bought the flat for Rs 6 lakh. Only two months ago he had bought a Yamaha CBZ motorcycle,” said Huzural Hasan, another neighbour.
However, according to Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman, Yasmin was also worried after her tooth problem cost the family about Rs 50,000 recently. “But they never borrowed money from relatives or neighbours,” he told Deccan Herald.
Feroze’s brother, Parwez Alam had unsuccessfully contested the civic elections in the past. He lives at another lane in the same locality and the bodies were sent to his residence after the post-mortem.
The absence of screams for help from the victims has forced the residents and police to think it was suicide.
“Even if three of the children were too short to be able to unbolt the door, the eldest daughter could have opened it. It is possible they were either sedated or poisoned before being set on fire,” said a neighbour requesting anonymity.
“A cloth had been stuffed in the ventilator, not allowing smoke to escape from the room,” said Athar Hasan, the house owner.