A construction worker, who lost his job in Hyderabad due to the lockdown, allegedly poured kerosene on his bedridden mother and set her on fire while she was asleep at her house in the early hours of Wednesday, police said.
Tirumala Lingaswami (45), from Nalgonda’s Narsingbatla village, 120 km from Hyderabad, allegedly told his sisters that he was not in a position to take care of her anymore, police said. He allegedly fled the spot after the incident and police are looking for him.
T Shantamma (65) had broken her hip bone five years ago when she fell in the bathroom and had been bedridden. Linguswami and his three sisters had hired a caregiver to take care of their mother but she had recently stopped coming for work as she was allegedly not paid during the lockdown. Neighbours left some food for Shantamma but refused to help her further as she was unable to take care of her personal hygiene.
“Her daughter who lives in a neighbouring village used to come down once a week to clean her up and give her a bath, otherwise the old woman was alone and had no help,’’ said Rajeshwar Reddy, Sub-Inspector at Nalgonda Rural police station.
After the lockdown was announced, Lingaswami stayed at a construction site for a few days but managed to reach the village after a few days and found that neither the caregiver nor his sisters were able to come to his mother’s house due to the lockdown.
Unable to bear the sight of her bedridden mother or to hire another caregiver, Lingaswami returned to Hyderabad in the first week of April and cut off all contact with his sisters in an alleged bid to escape responsibility, according to sources.
After the Telangana government eased restrictions on May 5, Lingaswami returned to the village and tried to persuade the caregiver who refused to join work, police said.
After recording statements of the three sisters, police said Lingaswami was pressuring Shantamma to sell the house to tide over the financial crisis. “His sisters told us that he had no money as he had used all his money during the lockdown… He pressured his sisters to tell their mother to sell the house… Her sisters said that it was probably the sight of his mother unable to take care of her personal hygiene and her refusal to sell the house that drove him to commit the alleged crime. It is not clear whether he wanted to use the money to take care of his mother,” a police officer said. “We are also investigating if his marital problems led to this as his wife recently left him with their two-year-old child… His sisters claim that he was consuming a lot of alcohol during the lockdown,” an officer said.
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