A sorry tale of overnight orphans: Five below 15 years lose parents to illicit liquor in Kallakurichi

The first death in the tragedy, that of G Praveen Kumar (25) has left his two sons, aged seven and five without a home, as his wife allegedly left the family four years ago.
A purple tent mounted in front of a house in Karunapuram
A purple tent mounted in front of a house in Karunapuram (Photo | Sriram R, EPS)

KALLAKURICHI: Every street in Karunapuram village has the purple tent mounted, with the entire neighbourhood echoing the funeral laments of families, for over 19 people from the locality died on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“My parents were quarrelling over something on Tuesday when my father drank the arrack from the packet. He left some in the pack and my mother in the heat of the moment, mistook it for omam (ajwain) water and drank it. They both fell sick within a few hours. We took them to Kallakurichi GH, but they died leaving the three of us orphaned,” said S Kokila (16), the eldest daughter of R Suresh (37) and S. Vadivu (34), who died on Wednesday.

At least five children below the age of 15 have lost their parents in the village as on Thursday. Activists have demanded the government to take care of these children’s accommodation and education, and to prohibit the sale of liquor and hooch.

“My father drank hooch and my mother mistook it for water, leaving both of them dead. All I ask from the government is to provide us a house, take care of our educational expenses. Above all, shut down all Tasmac shops and stop hooch sales,” says S Harish (15), Kokila’s brother.

Harish and Kokila, along with their 14-year-old brother Ragavan are left in the care of their grandmother Muniamma.

Meanwhile, the first death in the tragedy, that of G Praveen Kumar (25) has left his two sons, aged seven and five without a home, as his wife allegedly left the family four years ago.

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“Their mother left without a word while the father died after consuming hooch. I request help from the government so that they could survive,” said Praveen’s 65 year-old mother, who did not want to be named.

A few metres away, S Tamilarasi (32), who works as a security guard at the Kallakurichi government medical college and hospital, had to rush her father into the critical care on Wednesday.

“My father is a daily wage worker and he used to drink regularly. Out of habit, he consumed it early in the morning on Wednesday. We took him to Kallakurichi GH in an hour. We had to take him to Jipmer in Puducherry later, as his condition was critical. He was declared dead at 4 pm on Wednesday,” she said.

“He held my hands when closing his eyes for the last time. Since I work at the hospital, I see and handle dead bodies everyday but this was unlike anything that I ever had to deal with,” said Tamilarasi.

When the people were preparing to bid adieu, heavy rains lashed – a sign that villagers took as a universe’s show of sympathy. As the sun set in Karunapuram, rain came to a halt and pyres were lit. A total of 19 bodies were cremated, and buried at different places along the banks of Gomuki river and 10 others in Siruvangur and Kottaimedu.

“The hope is we don’t have to stand for a bandobast for such an incident ever again,” uttered a policewoman who was witnessing the funeral procession.

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