A woman in Kerala was starved to death by her husband and mother-in-law, the culmination of six years of harassment over dowry.
Police said Thushara, 27, wife of Chandulal, a native of Pooyappalli in Kollam district, died on March 21. The post mortem revealed that the young mother, who had a one-and-a-half-year old child still being breast-fed, died of pneumonia caused by chronic starvation. A probe revealed that she had been harassed for several years and was left to starve in the last three weeks before her death.
Police have arrested Chandulal, 30, and his mother Geetha Lal, 55. Both were remanded in judicial custody on Saturday.
Kollam (Rural) SP K G Simon said Thushara had been constantly harassed and tortured by her in-laws, who were seeking dowry of around Rs 2 lakh. He said that at the time of her death, she weighed only 20 kg.
“They (the in-laws) hadn’t given her food for the last three weeks before her death. There was no fat in her body, and at the time of death she weighed just 20 kg. After seeing her old photographs and the present skinny body, we were suspicious and started a probe, leading to the expose of the dowry torture and subsequent death,” Simon said.
Praba Babu, who lives in the neighbourhood, claimed Thushara’s parents gave Chandulal and his family 20 sovereigns of gold at the time of their marriage. However, the family kept harassing her for more dowry. At the time that Thushara died, her parents had got a bank loan of Rs 2 lakh sanctioned, meant to paid as dowry, she said.
According to her, neighbours had come to know that Thushara was given only sweetened water and wet raw rice in the last few weeks before her death. “In the last five years after her marriage, Thushara was very rarely allowed to visit her parents. The in-laws did not allow her go outside. She did not have even the health to breast feed…A woman with a well-nourished body, Thushara was reduced to a skeleton,” she said.
Another neighbour, Lincy Kunjumon, said, “The in-laws had tried to depict her as a mentally disturbed person. Rarely she was spotted outside the house.”
The SP said after her death, local residents started claiming that the family used to engage in “witchcraft”, and that people visited them family seeking remedies. The police haven’t come across any such specific complaint, but are probing into that angle as well, Simon said.