LAHORE - In the holy month of Ramazan, a poverty-stricken man threw his three children into the BRB Canal before jumping into the deep waters in the Barki area on early Sunday.

Police said that the 30-year-old man, identified as Muhammad Tahir, had recently been laid off from a local factory as part of cost-cutting. Since then he was unable to feed his family with three children under less than five years.

Resident of Rakh Kardat Singh, Tahir, appeared on the canal on a motorcycle along with his three children, Muhammad Adnan, 4, Ali Raza, 3, and two-year-old Aleesha. The man had married some five years ago and become the father of three including two sons and a daughter.

A close relative of the man told the police that Tahir convinced the innocent children that they were going to take a bath at the canal.

“As they arrived at the canal near Safen Karbath, the man parked his motorbike alongside the canal and removed the clothes of the children one by one. Then he threw them into the canal before jumping into the deep waters,” replied Abdul Rashid, an official at the Hayer police station, when contacted.

Police investigators said that the clothes of the children were lying on the edge of the canal as they reached the spot. The police also recovered the motorcycle from the site.

The bodies of the children were pulled out from the deep waters but the rescue workers, despite hectic efforts, could not recover the body of the man from the canal till Sunday night, Muhammad Imran, on-duty officer at the Barki police station said.

The man got dejected after he lost his job at a factory. “Two months ago, his wife left the house along with the children and started residing at the house her married sister to get rid of poverty. This further frustrated the unemployed man,” a police source quoted a relative of the deceased as telling the investigators alongside the canal, where search and rescue operation was underway. The man paid several visits to the house of his brother-in-law to reconcile with his estranged wife but she refused to come back home. However, the factory worker scuffled with his wife and took the children back to house. Later, the woman approached a local court to get divorce and win the custody of the children.

“A local judge had ordered the authorities to produce the kids before the family court on Monday (today). Apparently, it seemed that the poverty-hit man planned the collective-suicide in deep frustration,” a police investigator observed. “This was a financial- and job-related issue that led to the slayings. But the police are also investigating other aspects of the happening,” he added.

“They were cute, innocent, and beautiful babies. They were like spring flowers. No father can do this,” said Ahmad Khan, who witnessed the bodies after the rescuers recovered them from the deep waters. The bodies are removed to the morgue for an autopsy.

In recent years, the worst energy crisis forced many factory owners to begun massive lay offs to cut down the cost of doing businesses. The Punjab’s textile industry had announced to lay off workers and launch street protests after the ministry of water and power totally disconnected power supply to all large to medium-scale factories for an indefinite time to bridge growing supply gap in December.

A leading businessman, who wished not to be named, said that no incentive has been provided to five major export sectors in the budget 2013-14. On the other hand, sales tax rate has been enhanced from 2 percent to 17 percent rather 19 percent in case of supply to non registered persons for its finished products not exportable (B. grade, cut piece, leftovers etc) destined for domestic markets to cater the needs of the poor.

“General masses, particularly industrial workers gradually becoming street vendors as most of workers have been laid off due to energy crisis since, plant facilities are being operated at far below normal production level,” he added.

Economic experts say that a flood of inflation is definite to hit the poor and lower-middle class hard in the days ahead as the government has increased the cost of utilities besides imposing huge taxes on various businesses and sectors.