The tiny, straying lanes of CK Manickannar Street in Redhills wear an empty look. People sitting by the wayside stare blankly into space. As I look for Muruganâ€™s house, one woman points me to a house just off the corner. Around eight women are huddled together, speaking in hushed tones about the gruesome murder that has rocked their locality.
On Tuesday night, a drunk Murugan stumbled home and demanded money from his mother. The mother, 74-year-old Lakshmi, was only three days into mourning the death of her husband, 84-year-old Venu. When Lakshmi asked why he needed money and berated him for his inability to hold down a job, he took out a pocket knife and slit her throat.
After killing his mother, Murugan seems to have carried on as usual and went to work on Wednesday morning, laying pandals for events. However, upon learning that he was wanted by the police, he voluntarily surrendered before the Naravarikuppam Village Administrative Officer and gave his testimony.
Did he kill his father too?
According to one report, an investigating officer had said that Murugan, 34, had admitted to killing his father who died on January 20. Neighbours seem to believe this too.
Nagarani, who lives opposite Muruganâ€™s house, said, â€śAfter his father died, Muruganâ€™s elder brother confronted his mother. He asked if Murugan had killed their father. She (Lakshmi) must have been too scared to reveal the truth. But we knew. He had hit him with an iron rod and killed him.â€ť
Muruganâ€™s brother lives in another part of Redhills. Police say he moved because of Muruganâ€™s drinking habit.
However, Sub-Inspector Balaraman of the Redhills police station, tells another tale. â€śWe have received no report regarding the fatherâ€™s death, so we are not probing it. He was 84, so you can imagine. It could be natural causes as well. Murugan killed his mother soon after the fatherâ€™s death so the media has clubbed it together.â€ť
Drug abuse and alcoholism
Murugan was twice married and both women left him within weeks of the wedding. Neighbours say that he would beat everyone, including his parents. Police say that he had a history of alcoholism and drug addiction. In fact, he has been warned at the police station many times for various small misdemeanours and for creating public nuisance.
â€śEach time,â€ť Nagarani says, â€śhis mother would bring him back home calmly.â€ť
Murugamma, a relative of the family, reluctantly begins, â€śHe was alright as a child. Then, like every boy in this neighbourhood, he too started abusing ganja and drinking all the time. When he got married, he would torture his wives. Once he was drunk, he wouldnâ€™t be able to think straight. Boys here get addicted to ganja from as early as 10 years of age.â€ť
He called himself Baahubali
It appears that Murugan was much feared in the neighbourhood.
Murugamma says, â€śHe would run towards people carrying a big stone over his head and yell that he was Baahubali 2. We would all lock ourselves in our homes until he leaves.â€ť
More than the shock of the alleged double murders, neighbours are unable to get over the death of the elderly couple.
A vendor delivering gas cylinders stops near us and says to me, â€śShe would buy only once in six months. But she was very kind.â€ť
The neighbours say that they have never seen the soft-spoken couple fight.
Nagarani says, â€śShe came to my house that evening to ask if I could give her a cup of tea. She looked happy, her face washed with turmeric. Thatâ€™s the last time I saw her.â€ť
After he surrendered and gave his testimony, Murugan has been remanded at the Puzhal Central Prison.