Close to two weeks after his mother and two siblings were brutally assaulted at their home in Villupuram district, Balaji* is still in the dark about the health status of his two family members.
On February 22, police had found Balaji’s eight-year-old brother dead, having succumbed to head injuries while his 14-year-old sister and widowed mother were assaulted in their home. Police have told TNM that Balaji’s sister has been sexually assaulted while mother too is labelled ‘critical’.
But as the victims' family wait day after day at the JIPMER hospital in Puducherry, they allege that no reports or details are being given to them. Both Balaji's 48-year-old mother Lalitha* and sister Prabha* have remained unconscious since they were rushed to the hospital.
Speaking with TNM, Balaji who was just leaving the hospital says, "There is heavy security in place and they didn't let me visit them. The doctors are not saying anything to us. Police allege that my sister has been raped but doctors are not confirming this. They have conducted an operation on my mother's throat to help her breathe better. They have moments of consciousness, I have been told but are yet to respond to people. I don't know why they are not even giving relatives information. The doctors only talk to police officials."
When TNM contacted the hospital, the Director claimed that he was not aware of the exact status of the patients.
But sources from the hospital have informed the media that both mother and daughter are critical, owing to which surgeries that need to be performed have currently been put on hold.
Senior police officials who are investigating the case remain nonchalant about the family being kept in the dark about the medical status of the two victims.. "Who should we give the information to? Treatment is underway, so we don't have to constantly give information," says the investigating official. When informed of the family's predicament, he adds, "If they want information they can come ask specifically," he adds.
Protests over secrecy
Meanwhile, members of the Student Federation in Puducherry protested against the lack of clarity and progress in the case. They held a hunger strike till 3pm on Tuesday.
"Doctors have not even confirmed to the family if it is a case of child sexual abuse. Media is using the names of the victims and potentially damaging any future they could have if they survived. When this case has gotten so much public attention, is it not important to tell people what is happening? Especially considering the serial attacker is still on the prowl?" asks Swaminathan, a member of the federation.
The police had ruled out the caste angle in the case and had alleged that three attacks that took place in the village where the family resided were all inter connected. They are presently on the lookout for a sexual predator, as they believe that the same person is responsible for three cases of sexual assault.