Adimali: Three members of a family were found dead at their house here in Idukki district of Kerala. Police suspect it to be a case of suicide over financial liabilities. The family, based at Thelithodu Pulikapadayil near Kambilikandam, was reportedly under severe stress as one of them had to repay a loan, which was taken on behalf of a self-help group (SHG), to a private financial establishment.
The deceased have been identified as Arthiyil Joseph Thomas, alias Jose, (53), his wife Mini (46) and son Abin Jose (12), a Class-6 student of St George High School, Parathodu. Traces of poison were reportedly found in their bodies and in a glass.
The only survivor of the family is the five-year-old daughter of the couple.
Mini had reportedly failed to repay the loans taken by the 12-member SHG in which she was enrolled though she had collected the installments from other participants. Their SHG, named Chaitanya, had taken a loan of Rs 40,000 from the Parathodu branch of a private financial company.
The other members of the SHG had submitted a complaint against Mini at the Vellathuval police station in connection with the incident. Vellathuval Police had called Mini to the station. She had given a statement that she could not repay the amount as Rs 45,000 was stolen from her house. She had assured the police to repay the amount on the next day. The failure to repay the amount was believed to be the likely reason for the mass suicide.
Authorities of the finance company said that Mini had to settle only a small amount with them as debt arrears.
Police also said that both Joseph and Mini had likely taken loans from several others.
Joseph who was a daily wage labourer had only 30 cents of land in his possession.
Sole survivor's ordeal
The mass suicide happened in the intervening night of Thursday and Friday. Neighbours and relatives came to know about it as the sole survivor woke up by 7 a.m. on Friday. She found her parents apparently sleeping and lay beside her mother after brushing her teeth. As she woke up by 10 a.m. both parents and her brother were yet to wake up and they didn't respond even after repeated calls.
Soon, she called up her grandmother who was in Wayanad to inform that her father, mother and brother was remaining motionless. The grandmother asked her to inform this to the neighbours. The daughter then took the mobile phone of her father and passed on the information to the person to whom her father had spoken last. This phone number belonged to a person named Peethambaran of Chinnar. On receiving, the daughter’s call he dialed up the neighbours of Joseph to inform them about his conversation with the daughter of the couple.
In the meantime K G Leelamma, a teacher of the nearby Anganvadi, had come to the house to collect some information for a survey. When she looked into the house through the open front door she found the five-year-old girl standing near the bodies of her beloved ones. The bodies were lying in three beds placed side by side.
Munnar DySP M Rameshkumar, Vellathuval CI K J Thomas, SI Robinson and forensic experts from Iddukki examined the spot.
Mini belonged to Kuthilath family of Palachira in Wayanad.
The bodies were shifted to Kottayam Medical College after inquest for autopsy.