Sixty-eight-year-old Kandasamy, a resident of Reddipalayam in Karur district had been estranged from his sister-in-law Natchiyamma and her two children from 2008. After his brother Rasappa's death, they made occasional phone calls to enquire about the other family's health and rarely met despite living in the same district. But from 2013, even the little contact they had began to fade and there was no information about the trio till 2018.
Worried, Kandasamy visited Natchiamma's residence in Karur town in the beginning of 2019. Much to his shock, he found that all three members of the family including his 40-year-old nephew Nallusamy and 35-year-old niece Pappayi, were dead. And the over 2000 sq ft land that they had owned, Kandasamy found, had been transferred to a church priest in the locality named Moses Duraikannu.
"I was in complete shock. I know that this particular Father had convinced them to convert to Christianity in 2009, soon after my brother died," alleges Kandasamy. "And then after that he had promised free treatment for both my niece and nephew," he adds.
According to both relatives and the police, Nallusamy was blind, his sister Pappayi was deaf and Natchiyamma herself struggled with health issues. They were, however, self-sufficient with their own house to live in and jewellery that they mortgaged to handle expenses.
In the years following the conversion, Moses Duraikannu and his son Kamangalraj 'treated' both Nallusamy and Pappayi for disabilities, according to the police. However, members of the family began to die under mysterious circumstances.
"When I got to their house I found out that Nallusamy had died in 2013, Pappayi had died in 2014 and finally Natchiyamma in 2018," says Kandasamy. "Their relatives were not even informed about their deaths and neither was the police or district officials. The priest, his son and a helper named Rakjumar had buried them and the property is transferred to the priest's name. We believe there is foul play in their death and that it was orchestrated in an effort to grab the family's property," alleges Kandasamy.
Finally, he approached the Karur Superintendent of Police Pandiarajan on December 9, 2019. The case was then given to the Karur town police for investigation, but he alleges no action was taken.
"I then approached the Trichy DIG Balakrishnan (Karur district falls under Trichy range) with the complaint and only after that did they even give me a CSR (community service register) on March 12," says Kandasamy.
When TNM contacted Karur town Deputy Superintendent of Police Sugumar, he refused to comment on the delay in filing the case. An FIR was registered only on March 12
He, however, did reveal that there are already two cases against the priest and his son - the first being that he had misappropriated funds and the second being that his son had used the church property for his own personal activities.
"Now Kandasamy claims that there is foul play in the death of three persons but we need to investigate the matter. They are yet to be arrested," he said.