Kottayam: The decomposed body of a woman found on the premises of Kottayam Medical College Hospital (MCH) a few days ago has been identified as that of a 55-year-old lottery seller, Ponnamma. It is likely she was murdered as the autopsy report pointed out the grievous injuries on the head as the cause of her death.
The police have taken one man into custody. Ponnamma earlier used to stay with this person even while on the lookout for her son who went missing 18 years ago.
Ponnamma's daughter Sandhya identified the body after recognising her sari.
They belong to Thrikkodithanam, near Changanacherry, in Kottayam district.
The injuries on the skull could have been caused after it was hit with a heavy object like stones. The autopsy report also said that it was possible to sustain such injuries during a fall. This angle is also being probed.
Ponnamma had been selling lottery tickets on the MCH premises for years. She slept at the women's ward during the night.
Sandhya said that Ponnamma had reached the hospital years before in search of her missing son. She used to phone her daughter most of the days. Ponnamma had last visited her daughter on July 3 and since then there had been no communication.
Sandhya had informed the aid post of the medical college police, but did not give in a written complaint.
The DNA test would be conducted to ascertain that it was Ponnamma's body. Samples of Sandhya and from the body have been taken. The body would be laid to rest at the public crematorium with the help of the police.
The suspicion is on...
The daughter in her statement to the police said she suspected that her mother was murdered by the person who used to live with her earlier. Ponnamma had earlier stayed with the person who also sold lottery tickets at the hospital premises. But after he started physically abusing her, demanding money, she left his rented house and returned to the hospital ward, Sandhya said.
She also told the police that her brother Santhosh, who had gone missing years ago, too could have been killed. She told the police about some people whom she suspected.
10 sovereigns of gold, Rs 40,000!
Ponnamma was reportedly in possession of 10 sovereigns of gold and Rs 40,000. Her daughter said that Ponnamma used to put the gold and money in a handmade pouch and kept it with her always. Even when she visited her daughter on July 3, she had three gold chains and six rings. The police suspect that the murder could have been committed to get hold of the valuables.
Sandhya also said that the money procured from the panchayat as the first instalment for building her house was also with Ponnamma. The elderly woman earlier used to walk around with the documents of her three cents of land at Thrikodithanam. However, this had gone missing.
The daughter also said Ponnamma earned Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 every day through the sale of lotteries.
Pursuit of son for 18 years
Ponnamma had reached the MCH in search of her missing son Santhosh, 18 years ago. She had searched several locations to find her son who went missing at the age of 12.
She also walked up to the police stations with a complaint several times. However, she was informed that it would be difficult to find the boy who had been missing for so long. She even made a computer-generated photo of how the boy would look at 18 years of age. She used this to continue her search.
Santhosh went missing from a relative's house. Ponnamma had reached the MCH to know if her son had been injured and was brought to the hospital. She then started selling lottery tickets on its premises. She lived on the food given by voluntary outfits at the hospital and slept at the women's ward during the night.
The hapless woman would visit the patients brought to the casualty wing and the unclaimed bodies taken to the mortuary on a daily basis, the hospital staff said.
She had also approached Santhwanam, a centre for women and children, at Gandhinagar in Kottayam. Its director Annie Babu recollected that Ponnamma was confident of finding her lost son.
Den of anti-social elements
Anti-social elements ruled the roost at the medical college premises and wards, it was said.
No effective measures were taken to evict those who had been illegally staying at the hospital. Over 200 people had been living on the premises illegally. The police had nabbed hundreds of people during an inspection at the night couple of months ago. However, as there was no follow-up action, things returned to the old ways.
After the body was found, the police have issued instructions to identify and catch those who have been staying illegally at the hospital and on its premises. A control room vehicle allotted to the district police would be assigned to the medical college area. Apart from the police aid post, more cops would be put on duty 24X7, DySP K Sreekumar has said.