KANHANGAD: In a case of suspected murder-suicide that will put spotlight on the lack of institutional care for persons with special needs, a woman allegedly killed her daughter, an endosulfan victim with intellectual disabilities, and ended her life in their house at Panathady panchayat on Monday.
The deceased have been identified as Vimala Kumari (58), a cook of Government High School at Chamundikunnu at Ottamala in Panathady panchayat, and her daughter Reshma R (28).
Persons close to the family said Vimala Kumari had a high level of future anxiety because of her daughter and the case of suspected murder-suicide should put the spotlight on the inadequate institutional care for persons with special needs in Kasaragod district.
Vimala Kumari and Reshma lived in a three-room asbestos roofed house at Chamundikunnu. Her husband Raghunath died 20 years ago.
They have two older sons, Renjith and Manu, who live with their wives in Kochi and Karnataka, respectively.
Around 3 pm on Monday, Manu's wife Bhagyalakshmi came to the house at Chamundikunnu and found her mother-in-law and sister-in-law dead in the house.
Rajapuram station house officer Unnikrishnan V said there was a ribbon around Reshma's neck.
"It appears she was strangled. Her mother was found hanging. We will have to wait for the postmortem report to conclude the cause of their deaths," he said.
Vimala Kumari was a mid-day meals cook with neighbourhood Government High School for around 25 years, said Padma Kumar, who teaches Malayalam in the same school.
"The fear of who will take care of her daughter after she is gone always haunted her. She often spoke about her daughter," he said.
Till five years ago, her husband's mother used to take care of Reshma.
"After she died, Reshma will be put in a residential convent at Birikulam," said N Vincent, a member of Panathady panchayat and literacy activist.
But after the outbreak of COVID, such schools were shut and Reshma was in the house for two years.
Now as the school is set to reopen on June 1, Vimala Kumari wanted to send her daughter back to the convent so that she can take up the cook's job.
"But whenever the mother mentions the convent, Reshma used to become violent. She did not like going back to that institution," he said.
Vimala Kumari had only two choices: either to lock up her daughter in the house and go to the school or send her to the convent.
"She might not have liked the first option and the daughter did not like the second option," said Vincent.
The government gave Rs 3 lakh as part of the compensation for endosulfan survivors. As per the Supreme Court judgment, the government still owes another Rs 2 lakh to the family.
The government announced a rehabilitation village for endosulfan survivors at Muliyar in 2015. After six years, there is no activity on the barren site.
Though the activists and the affected families are demanding a residential centre for the victims, the government is planning to build only a day-care centre there.
(If you are having suicidal thoughts, or are worried about a friend or need emotional support, someone is always there to listen. Call Sneha Foundation - 04424640050 (available 24x7) or iCall, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences' helpline - 9152987821, which is available Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 10 pm)