Nine-yr-old girl suspected to have poisoned classmates

Students inability to beat her friends in exams possible reason

But on Thursday, Sneha did something that shocked, stunned and numbed her neighbourhood: she allegedly mixed rat poison in the food that her two best friends from a Kolkata school ate. Within an hour the two girls were dead. This is as chilling as it gets.

Although the parents and relatives of the two girls, identified as Payal Pandey and Jyoti Singh, are in a state of shock, the police are treating the case with caution. They said that Sneha, who has clamped up completely following the death of her classmates, deserved to be treated compassionately.

The police believe that Sneha might have taken the step, whose consequences she perhaps did not realise while administering the poison in Payal and Jyoti’s school tiffin, sometime before recess at Devendra Dwivedi Vidyalaya in Bansdroni in the southern suburbs of Kolkata. From the little information they could obtain after talking to Sneha, the police suspect heartburn and jealousy at not being able to beat Payal and Jyoti in studies as the driving force behind the Class IV student’s action.

Payal and Jyoti’s parents have told the police that in their dying statements the girls had said Sneha poisoned them. “Sneha ne chuha marne ki dawai pila di,” Payal and Jyoti reportedly whispered to their parents even as their condition sank after being rushed to M R Bangur Hospital in the Tollygunge area. An hour later, the two succumbed to the effects of the rat poison. Autopsy on the bodies confirmed the presence of a poisonous substance in the food.

So far, Sneha has not admitted why, if at all, she committed the act, forcing the police to refer her to a juvenile home. “Jyoti and Payal would alternately top the class, but Sneha has never been able to beat either of them,” Jyoti’s father Ajay Singh, an auto-rickshaw driver, said, suggesting jealousy might have driven Sneha to administer rat poison in her friends’ snacks. The shock of his daughter’s alleged act has numbed Sneha’s father Dilip Jha, a businessman who lives close to the school. He declined to speak.

What has baffled the police is how a nine-year-old girl could sneak out rat poison from home and then find an opportune moment to lace Jyoti and Payal’s snacks with the substance in class or elsewhere within the school premises. After talking to the school authorities and the girls’ class teacher, the police believe that the three were the best of friends and would also eat their snacks together during recess. As usual, on Thursday, Jyoti and Payal, who scored the best marks in class, shared their tiffin with Sneha. Payal and Jyoti took portions of Sneha’s tiffin and Sneha partook of her friends’ food.

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