Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
Police in Delhi, India, have arrested a man of the southern Greater Kailash region for allegedly administering the poisonous substance thallium to his wife and her family after he was nursing a grudge against them over their support of his wife’s decision to abort their child.
According to reports from The Times of India, at the end of January 2021, the man, Varun Arora, held a dinner at his home which was attended by his wife and in-laws.
During the dinner, he poisoned his wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law with the lethal chemical.
The man’s wife was left comatose, while his mother-in-law and sister-in-law both died from the poisoning.
Due to being exposed to the substance, the man’s father-in-law and the household helpers also were affected by the thallium, requiring prompt treatment.
Senior officers said police recovered a small glass bottle with thallium from the arrested man’s house.
On March 22, Inderpuri Police was informed that a woman by the name of Anita Devi Sharma had died at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
Ms Sharma had been under treatment for over a month and during that time, thallium was detected across her blood and urine samples.
Speaking of the death, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Urvija Goel, said, “Since thallium is a poisonous substance, efforts to trace the source of thallium administered to the woman were made”.
“During preliminary enquiry it was found that the woman’s older daughter Divya, married to one Varun Arora, who lived in Greater Kailash Part-1, was is also admitted in the ICU ward of the same hospital with thallium poisoning.”
She remains on ventilator support.
Furthermore, Deputy Commissioner Goel revealed that Divya’s younger sister Priyanka had also died of thallium poisoning while undertaking a treatment at BL Kapoor Hospital in February, while a maid who was working in the man’s house had also been treated for symptoms of thallium poisoning.
It was at this point that they realised a serious case of poisoning had taken place.
“We realised that the family was possibly poisoned with thallium at the same time,” Deputy Commissioner Goel said.
Internet Search “How to Make Someone Very Sick” Key to Uncovering Thallium Poisoning by Man
After both the mother-in-law and sister-in-law dying, the bodies were shifted to a different hospital where a detailed autopsy was conducted by a board of doctors.
Along with this, a forensic and crime team also attended the man’s house to carry out a detailed inspection.
According to Deputy Commissioner Goel, during initial questionings, it was found that Mr Arora had cooked the family fish, serving it to the entire family.
“Since the chain of events was triggered after the dinner, Mr Arora was detained for questioning.
“When he was confronted with facts, Mr Arora admitted to have procured thallium and administered it to his mother-in-law Anita, wife Divya, father-in-law Devender Mohan and Priyanka, his sister-in-law.
“He revealed that he had poisoned them to take revenge as they had been allegedly repeatedly humiliating him.”
It is understood Mr Arora mentioned to police that after his father’s death last year, his wife Divya had conceived, however, she developed some complications and aborted the child on the advice of her parents and sister.
This was against his wishes.
At the time, Mr Arora did not have a job, so his in-laws would “repeatedly taunt him”.
Meanwhile, police also discovered the man had searched the Internet on “how to make someone very sick”.
“That is how he got the idea of using thallium,” Deputy Commissioner Goel said.
“When our teams searched his laptop, we found his search history was deleted.”
A Silent Weapon: How Thallium Works
Thallium is a toxic chemical, specifically a soft, heavy inelastic metal, that has no colour, odour or taste.
It acts slowly and has often been used by murderers as it is difficult to detect.
Research into thallium toxicity reveals that thallium poisoning victims usually do not know that they have consumed the substance or have been exposed to it.
The clinical presentation of thallium toxicity will vary depending on the type, severity, and length of the exposure.
Where large amounts of thallium have been ingested over a short period of time, those exposed tend to show signs and symptoms of acute poisoning.
The characteristic symptoms of acute thallium toxicity include:
- Severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea within three to four hours of exposure
- Painful and rapidly progressing peripheralneuropathies (numbness, tingling and pain, especially on the soles and palms) about two to five days following exposure
- Sudden hair loss that progresses to wide spread alopecia around two to three weeks after exposure.
It is a criminal offence to use poison to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm on a person.
Specifically, if you are in NSW, the law on this is presented in section 39 of the Crimes Act 1900, which states that an offence takes place where:
- A person administers or causes a person to take poison, an intoxicating substance or any other destructive or noxious thing; and
- The substance either endangers that person’s life or causes that person grievous bodily harm (which is understood as very serious harm, including organ damage); and
- The person intended to either injure that person or they knew the likelihood of injuring that person but continued to do so anyway.
In NSW, the maximum penalty you can face for an offence is up to 10 years imprisonment.
An alternative offence carrying up to 5-years imprisonment is found in section 42 of administering or causing another person to take poison if done with the intent to either injure or cause distress or pain to that person at the time.