Rajnish Kumar Singh was like any other high-achiever, living in an upscale, gated apartment complex in Gurgaon, until he hacked his wife to death this Sunday with a kitchen knife with such brutality that autopsy reports have revealed as many as 15 stab wounds.
The 1995-graduate of IIM-Ahmedabad, who was vice president in a consultancy firm, suspected his wife of infidelity; they had an argument, which spiraled out of control and ended in the murder. Shweta, who ran a play school in Gurgaon's DLF Phase-IV, and he had had a love marriage nine years ago, and had three children, aged between eight years and 11 months. "They had shifted into flat C-9 around a month back.
He earns well and though the couple were aloof, nobody ever thought something like this was brewing between them," said a neighbour.
Just two days before this incident, on Friday, the Delhi police were called to investigate the brutal deaths in Sadiq Nagar area of a Research & Analysis Wing officer; Ananya Chakraborty had used a hammer to bludgeon his wife and two grown-up children and slit their throats before hanging himself. Little is known about what led to Chakraborty's murder spree, but police have spoken about marital discord and his opposition to his wife's working in a school.
And there was a similar case last week of the Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh) superintendent of police, Devnarayan Patel, shooting his wife and two children and then turning the gun on himself. Patel's motivation — he was frustrated over being unfairly suspended.
All three men — Singh, Chakraborty, and Patel — were educated, financially stable and, on the face of it, respectable citizens. What, then, led to such extreme rage that boiled over into brutal violence against members of their immediate family?
"The notion that men who are well educated and well off do not indulge in violent acts is just not true," said Dr Samir Parekh, director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences at Fortis Healthcare. These incidents, he felt, are in keeping with the generic rise in aggression in society, especially in urban areas.
Gallantry-award winning police officer, Prakash Singh, a retired director general of police, said that cases such as Patel's, "are reflective of the disconnect between leaders and the men in the force". Singh, whose PIL in 1996 was responsible for the implementation of police reforms in India, said, "In our generation, we would go out to play with the men every evening. I would know the names of all the head constables and even knew some of them intimately."
Jasmeet Kaur, psychotherapist and marriage counsellor in Delhi, said that men in positions of power in the corporate sector are more vulnerable, given the intense competition to keep the job and to climb the ladder. She pointed to the "increasing gap between the genders" as a cause for marriages turning into tinderbox of emotions. "While women have become emancipated, and are very assertive about their rights and needs, men have yet to accept progressive gender roles. This leads to a breakdown of understanding," she said.
Dr Parikh said that the breakdown in societal support also has a lot to do with the rise of rage crimes. "Unlike earlier, even close relations are now seen as distant and mohallas, where you earlier went out to chat, have become non-existent."
Kaur said that highly successful men in many ways have a greater need for control, especially in the nuclear family space that has become important as in their sense of identity. "Any threat to this space is unbearable to them and sends them into such a fury that they would rather gain control by destruction."