DHARMAPURI: A woodcutter who was undergoing trial died at a private hospital in Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday. The wood cutter’s family is struggling to retrieve his body due to bureaucratic bottlenecks.
Sources said, Rathinam (27), of Chengam in Villupuram district after marrying Kumarthi,of Chittari, was residing in his wife’s village, Keezh Sengapadi, located on the foothills of Chittari in the district.
Rathinam, a construction worker, used to go for jobs to Chittoor in AP. During one such trip, he was mistaken as an accused in a Tirupati forest officials’ murder case and was arrested in 2014. He was charged under Section 302 of the IPC and lodged in Srikalahasti jail, Mathesh, elder brother of Rathinam said.
A week ago, Rathinam was admitted to a hospital after he complained of severe stomach pain. However, he died on Wednesday around 1 pm without responding to treatment, Mathesh said.
“As coolies, we don’t have enough money to pull on in Andhra Pradesh. For the past one week, we were eating only temple prasadam. Now, we don’t have money even to return to Tamil Nadu. We are facing language problems here. They told us that the body would be handed over to us after autopsy and legal formalities,” said Mathesh. “I don’t know, how I am going to bring up my two children without him,” rued Kumarthi
Gajendran, coordinator of All India People Forum (AIPF) and a tribal activist, said that it was not the first case of death of an undertrial. He said more than five undertrial woodcutters have died in the past seven months in various prisons of Andhra Pradesh. Chandramohan, state coordinator of AIPF, said that more than 2000 tribal undertrials were languishing in various sub-jails of Andhra Pradesh, including Chittoor, Tirupati, Srikalahasti and Cuddapah. The government should intervene immediately and secure their release.