Police say hot water was poured on her, but despite burn injuries, she was not taken to hospital.

Chennai bizmans wife niece held for allegedly murdering their teenaged house help
news Crime Friday, July 06, 2018 - 09:09

When businessman Muruganandham approached the Chennai police informing them that his house help had died in mysterious circumstances, what the investigators had not expected was that a murder angle would unravel.

On Thursday, the Adyar police in Chennai city arrested Sushmitha Priya (46) and her niece Mitrachini (20) on Thursday for murdering their teenaged domestic help, Mahalakshmi. The police, acting on a complaint from Muruganandham, Sushmitha’s husband, took them into custody on Thursday and remanded them to judicial custody in Puzhal prison.

According to the police, Muruganandham owns a gas cylinder manufacturing business in Kanchipuram and the family- Muruganandham, his wife and their son- lived in their own house in Kanchipuram. They owned a house in Adyar, Chennai too. Mahalakshmi, an orphan from Andhra Pradesh, had been working with the family for the past five years. She was brought to work in Muruganandham’s house by an agent.

On Tuesday, the family along with Mahalakshmi came to Chennai since Mitrachini, Sushmitha’s sister’s daughter had come from Malaysia. Since Mahalakshmi was not well, they told her that she could visit a doctor once they reach Chennai.

On Wednesday, Muruganandham had gone for an inquiry with the Enforcement Directorate early in the morning, leaving his wife, the niece and Mahalakshmi alone at home. The police say that the women poured hot water on her and scalded her. Rendering her bed-ridden, the women had then called for a nurse from Fortis Malar hospital.

“It was Muruganandham who called us at around 10.30 pm on Wednesday and informed that the house-help had died. We registered a case of suspicious death based on the initial statements of the women there but after a round of enquiry, we understood that they could have murdered her and altered the case to section 302 of the IPC (murder),” said a senior police officer to TNM.

The women initially had informed the police that they had gone out shopping on Wednesday and on their return, they found Mahalakshmi unconscious with burn marks in her body. The case was registered under section 174 of CrPC (Suspicious death).

A senior police officer spoke to TNM and said, “We checked the CCTV cameras outside the house and it showed that the women didn’t go anywhere on Wednesday. In fact the six cameras were switched off between 6 pm and 10 pm. The accused told us that there was a power cut at that time and hence the cameras were switched off. A simple check with the TNEB office in that area negated their claims of a power cut. That made our suspicions strong and we grilled them. Then they admitted to have beat her and poured boiling water on her.”

“The nurse says that she administered an IV in Mahalakshmi’s right hand and the body was covered with a blanket when she visited her,” he added.

Despite administering IV fluids, Mahalakshmi’s pulse became faint by the evening and she died before Muruganandham came home at around 10 pm on Wednesday. When Muruganandham reached home, he found the maid dead and alerted the police.

“The accused have given a statement that Mahalakshmi used to be physically violent with their 9-year-old son and touched him inappropriately. Sushmitha has said that she used to reprimand Mahalakshmi often for indiscipline. The post-mortem report says that there were no other marks on her body other than the scald marks. We are investigating to see if there is any other angle to the case and we will file charge sheet in 90 days,” said the police officer.

The police are also doubtful of the family’s claim that Mahalakshmi was 19 years old. "The girl appears to be a minor. But we have no documents to corroborate this as of now. Post mortem was conducted last evening but the cause of death is inconclusive. Doctors are yet to confirm if it is because of the burns from boiling water. The two women failed to take her to the hospital because they were scared that they will get caught for abuse,” a senior officer said.

The accused, both originally from Malaysia, have been taken into custody and are lodged in Puzhal prison.

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