Thodupuzha: This is the story of a seven-year-old boy battling for life on ventilator in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical College Hospital at Kolenchery in Kerala's Ernakulam district.
The boy, a class 2 student at a school at Kumaramangalam near Thodupuzha in Idukki district, has a crack on his skull and over 20 old and new injury marks on his body.
According to Dr G Sreekumar, neurosurgeon at the medical college, though a surgery was performed for internal bleeding in the head, the boy remains to be in critical condition. The crack on his cranium is almost 2 inches.
Who has done this to the young kid? What led to this sort of an inhuman assault on a little boy? Where were his relatives? How did this happen? This story will explain Onmanorama readers everything behind the beastly act that landed this boy in the ICU.
It is also the tale of a cruel, educated uncle-turned step-father and a well-educated mother who preferred to play a mute witness to the harassment inflicted on her son.
The chain of incidents began at 1.30 am on March 28, 2019 (Thursday). The mother and her live-in partner Arun Anand, who is also her late husband Biju's first cousin (Father's sister's son), locked their two sons, one seven years old and the other four years, from outside the bedroom and left for a late night dinner. According to the mother, who talked to a few vernacular dailies after the incident, Arun used to tell her that they should leave the boys alone at home so that they could grow up as brave boys.
She trusted him and left for dinner and returned around 3am. They found the kids sleeping and the couple also got into the bed. Arun realised that the four-year-old kid had wetted the bed. This infuriated him and he thrashed the elder boy for not taking the younger one to wash room before they went to bed.
Six-foot tall Arun kicked the kid in the stomach. The kid was thrown up in the air and banged his head against the wall. He was picked up and thrown again. This time the child's head hit the edge of a steel almirah. Arun then grabbed the kid's head and banged it against the cot.
The kid fell on the ground. Arun kicked several times and dragged him through other rooms also. This left blood stains everywhere.
Arun also beat the mother who tried to intervene. The 4-year-old was also beaten. The room was cleaned and the younger one was locked up again before taking the elder child to hospital.
Around 3.50am, the mother and Arun took the kid to a hospital in Thodupuzha where the mother stated that the kid had fallen from the bed but the doctors referred him to the medical college at Kolenchery as he was in a critical condition. However, Arun had claimed that the kid had an accident while playing. Suspecting some foul play as the mother and Arun were giving different versions of the incident, the doctors also called police. When Arun saw police, he refused to accompany the ambulance to the medical college. This added to cops' suspicion. They also did not allow Arun to take the car in which the boy was brought to the hospital. They asked him to go to the hospital in the ambulance along with the mother. The Thodupuzha cops alerted Puthencruz police station (Kolenchery medical college falls under this station's jurisdiction) and asked them to track Arun in the medical college.
By this time the cops went to the couple's house and talked to the younger child and he narrated the whole incident to police. The younger boy's narration left the cops shocked. He recalled the entire episode and told the cops how Arun assaulted his brother brutally till he lost consciousness. The child had marks on body from beatings sustained over a long period, said Thodupuzha AEO who inspected him. A thick, broken stick was found in the house later.
Soon, Puthencruz cops were asked to arrest Arun for the beastly attack on the little boy.
The four-year-old boy is now with his maternal grandmother.
Arun sexually abused the children, district police chief K B Venugopal said.
Examination of the child in hospital points towards sexual abuse and the younger child will be questioned with the help of child line officials for further details.
Meanwhile, the relatives of the first husband, Biju, are now raising suspicions over his death. They have approached Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with a petition seeking further investigation in the matter.
If necessary a separate case will be charged for violating the younger child and the circumstances that led to the death of Biju are also being examined, Venugopal said.
Angry mob at Thodupuzha
Arun Anand was brought to his rented house at Kumaramangalam for evidence gathering on Saturday.
A large crowd, gathered on the premises of the house, showered abuses on Arun while he was brought to the place. After going into the house for 15 minutes, the police brought out Arun. An angry mob rushed to assault him but police immediately took him to the police station. Later, a local court remanded him in custody for two weeks.
Arun and the mother of the injured boy were staying at the rented house on the pretext of being a married couple. The family remained rather isolated as they did not maintain any close connections with their neighbours. The family, which was staying on the upstairs of the same house, was not home when the incident happened.
The boy's mother is a BTech graduate from Udumbannoor village in Idukki district and Arun is also a civil engineering degree holder from Nandankode in Thiruvananthapuram district. She is from a well-to-do family and her mother is a retired teacher. She is the only daughter and she lost her father early. According to relatives, she never wanted to go for a job in a private firm or in public sector. She trusted every word of Arun because apparently he was the only person who supported her to recover the shock of her husband's death last year. She was married to Biju from Thiruvananthapuram around eight years ago. Biju had set up a workshop at Vengalloor near Thodupuzha after the marriage. They were blessed with two sons and Biju died following a heart attack in May, 2018. Biju's body was cremated at his native place in Thiruvananthapuram. The wife also went to Thiruvananthapuram for the funeral where she stayed for a few days with her in-laws. She met Arun, who is Biju's first cousin, there.
After Biju's death, Arun, who is a divorcee, became close to the woman. She finally decided to live with Arun, taking her kids along. Her mother was against this but she was adamant. The mother also approached the police but the woman told a court that she wanted to go with Arun. But they never married officially. The woman's mother did not allow Arun to stay in her house. So, the
couple lived in Thiruvananthapuram for a while before moving to Kumaramangalam near Thodupuzha. The house they live now was rented saying that they were husband and wife. Arun was also first married to a model and he has a 10-year-old daughter from that marriage. They were divorced later. The daughter now lives with her mother.
Soon, Arun reopened the workshop owned by Biju and started managing things there. But the woman or Arun never visited her mother at Udumbannoor.
According to vernacular newspaper reports, Arun is known as 'Cobra' among the underworld gangs of Thiruvananthapuram. His parents were bank employees. A report said his father died while he was in service and Arun was offered a job in the 'dying in harness' quota. But he refused the offer and started developing contacts with the criminal gangs in Thiruvananthapuram. Soon, he was involved in drugs trade also. His elder brother is a defence personnel.
Arun always loved to live life kingsize. According to neighbours, the couple always preferred to dine in posh restaurants. Arun's involvement with criminal gangs and drug trade helped him lead a luxurious life.
Arun is also a murder case accused. He has seven cases against him registered at four police stations in Kerala.
Arun is the third accused in a 2008 murder case in which his friend Vijayaraghavan was hit on head with a beer bottle. He was also remanded in custody for attacking a family for money at Nandankode in 2007.
The police have a grim picture of his character. Arun behaves rashly under the influence of alcohol and drugs, abusing children and women at will. He carries liquor and drugs in his vehicle. Once caught and released in a case, he creates an image of a reformed man before carrying out more atrocious activities.
An iron axe with plastic handle has been recovered from the car which was used to bring the child to hospital. Half a bottle of alcohol was also seized from the car.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has asked Idukki Collector to take urgent action in the case. Order has been issued to provide the child with best medical attention possible. Government will take care of his medical expenses and the younger child’s protection, said health minister K K Shailaja. District Child Rights Commission has also registered a case.
Meanwhile, the seriously injured boy will continue to be on ventilator support. Even though an emergency surgery was conducted on the boy, his brain functions have not resumed. However, as he is a young kid it might even take several days for brain to resume normal functions, the medical board opined.
The board found the present treatment being given at the medical college to be satisfactory and advised that the child need not be moved to another hospital.