KANNUR: The first of the deaths happened on September 9, 2012. When, Keerthana, one-and-a-half-year-old daughter of Saumya, died, nobody had any suspicions. The people of Padannakkara in Pinarayi Panchayat of Kannur district had also treated it like an unfortunate tragedy. But, almost six years later, three more deaths have occurred in a similar manner.
On Tuesday morning, Saumya, the lone survivor, who is separated from her husband, was taken into custody by the police and is being interrogated for the deaths of her daughters Keerthana and Aishwarya and her parents Koonheri Kunhikkanan and Vadavathi Kamala.
It was the second death, of nine-year-old Aishwarya on January 13 that made some of the local people suspicious. She had succumbed due to excessive vomiting, just like in the previous death. Later, Vadavathi Kamala (68), died under similar circumstances on March 7. On April 13, Kunhikkannan (76) too died due to excessive vomiting.
The local residents demanded a post-mortem of Kunhikkannan and Kamala. And a day after the death of Kunhikkannan, Saumya was also admitted to the hospital for vomiting.
As the tragedy made headlines, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is also from the same village, visited the house and asked the police and the health department to conduct an inquiry. The Health Department and village officials took the water samples from the house of Saumya and from 25 wells in the area. But, after the examination of the water, it was found that there was nothing wrong. The Dharmmadam police registered a case on a complaint lodged by the relatives expressing doubts about the deaths.
The police, under ASP Chaithra Theresa John and Thalasserri town CI KE Premachandran, have launched an investigation.
As a part of this, the internal organs of Kunhikkannan and Kamala were sent to the Kozhikode Forensic lab for detailed examination. The results confirmed the presence of aluminium phosphide, which is found in rat poison.
"It was only after the death of Kamala that the people raised some doubts," said PK Geethamma, Panchayath president, Pinarayi. "The mystery behind these deaths will be solved soon," she said.
On Monday, the body of Aishwarya was exhumed and a post-mortem was done by Pariyaram medical college hospital forensic surgeon Dr. Gopalakrishna Pillai. The collected remains were taken to Thiruvananthapuram forensic lab for detailed examination.
As remnants of aluminium phosphide was traced from the organs of the people died, the police have taken Saumya from the hospital, where she was undergoing treatment. "Nothing can be said of now, as the investigation is going on," said one of the police officers.