A 28-year-old old woman from Panamkuppam in Villupuram district was arrested by the police on November 2 for the murder of both her sons. Jayachitra, a homemaker who has been married for four years had drowned her children - a 7-month-old baby and a four-year-old son, over the last two months.
According to the police, she murdered her younger son in Pudupettai district by submerging him into a vessel full of water, two months back. The second child was killed on November 2, when she allegedly dropped him into a water tank. Following this, she absconded from her residence and was tracked down by the police in Melmaruvathur in Kanchipuram district.
"After the death of the younger child, the Pudupettai police filed a case of suspicious death. But the family was very clear that it was an accident," says Villupuram Superintendent of Police, D Jayakumar. According to reports, Jayachitra went missing after the death of the first child but her parents claimed that she was afraid she would be blamed for the 'accident' and she was reunited with her husband.
But two months later, her relatives were in their native village and her husband at work when she allegedly murdered her four-year-old son Mithun.
"After she dropped him into a water tank, she went missing again and we found her. This time, when interrogated at the station, she admitted to murdering both children," says the SP.
But what was the motive?
When it comes to the motive behind the murder of the children, those investigating the case and senior officials differ.
The SP says that the accused is mentally ill and has been suffering from depression for a long time. This assessment has however been made independently with no corroboration from a medical expert.
"She told us that she had bouts of depression from a young age. But her condition worsened after the second delivery," says SP Jayakumar. "She is able to do household work and continues to have a good relationship with her husband but her mental health seems to be the reason for her decision to murder the children," he adds.
Experts in the field of mental health confirm to TNM that such violent behaviour is not uncommon if a mother is suffering from post partum depression or psychosis.
"We can not rule out this possibility," says Chennai based psychiatrist, Dr. Jayanthini. "If it is post partum depression, then she will try to kill the children and then herself. If it is psychosis, then, there is a possibility of hearing voices that tell you commit these violent acts," she adds.
But other investigating officials are not convinced by this explanation.
An official from the special branch looking into the case, tells TNM. "No motive has been established for her actions yet. We are neither doctors nor magicians to decide if she has a mental illness. She has been lodged in Cuddalore prison. The law will take its course."