Two weeks after the story of a father who allegedly killed his son unfolded in the media, a mix of silence and sympathy for the accused engulfs the case.
On May 9, the Madurai police arrested Tamil writer and journalist Soundarapandian, known by his pen name Sowba, after he reportedly confessed to having killed his “drug-addict” son Vipin Sowba, 27.
The case unfolded after Sowba’s estranged wife Latha lodged a missing person complaint after she had failed to contact her son. “She had called up her estranged husband to ask about Vipin, who took turns to stay with both parents. Sowba replied that he had admitted Vipin to a rehabilitation centre, but when she pressed him for details, he refused. This forced her to file a police complaint,” says a police officer probing the case, who didn’t want to be quoted.
Despite The Sunday Express’s attempts, Latha could not be contacted.
Police say that when they questioned Sowba, he told them that his son “was a drug-addict and picked fights with him”. During one such fight, the officer says, Sowba beat Vipin with an iron rod, leading to his immediate death. Sowba then took the body to his farmhouse in Dindigul and cremated it, says the officer. Two workers who worked in Sowba’s farmhouse were also arrested for allegedly helping him cremate the body. Police have collected DNA samples from remains unearthed at the farmhouse and sent the same for testing.
Police say that during their investigation, they also found out about a property dispute between the father and son. “Sowba seems to have lost several lakhs in a property deal near Theni. As the son had been asking for money and a share of Sowba’s assets, the father and son seem to have fought over the property deal. We are probing,” says the officer, adding that police recovered Vipin’s cellphone from Sowba’s house in Dindigul.
After spending over a week in Madurai Central Prison, Sowba is now in police custody at the Madurai general hospital. “An acute diabetic, he has a wound on his leg which has made his condition worse. Doctors are monitoring him and one of his legs may have to be amputated,” says Sowba’s counsel B Ashok.
Among writers and journalists in Tamil Nadu, Sowba is known as the man who wrote extensively in the Junior Vikatan about female infanticides in Usilampatti, with his series credited as having got the Jayalalithaa government to implement the cradle baby scheme in 1992. The 1994 movie Seevalaperi Pandi is said to have been based on his story.
“He loved his son. It was his dream to make him a civil servant, but the son got addicted to marijuana. They used to fight often,” says a close associate, refusing to talk further.