A 9-year-old girl died after her mother allegedly resorted to corporal punishment while reprimanding her for stealing money. Police said the mother beat the child, branded a hot spoon on her mouth and thighs, and forced her to inhale the vapor of chili powder-laced water. The girl fell ill and succumbed to her injuries at a local hospital two days later, according to police.
The deceased child, a class 3 student, was the eldest child of daily wage laborers, Raja and Manimegalai. They lived in a rented home at the Veppanthattai village in the Perambalur district of Tamil Nadu, India.
On Jan. 5, the child allegedly stole Rs 70 ( $ 0.95 approx.) from a relative’s house, police said. When her mother was informed about this, she brought the child home and beat her up.
According to a complaint filed by Village Administrative Officer (VAO) Satheesh Kumar, the punishment did not end there. The mother and a relative, identified as Malliga, allegedly branded the child with a hot spoon on her mouth and thighs and forced her to inhale the vapor of chili powder mixed with water.
The child fell ill and three days later on Saturday, Jan.8, her parents took her to a local hospital after her condition began to deteriorate.
“The girl passed away early morning on Sunday. Doctors who treated her informed local police officials through whom we came to know about the incident,” Satheesh added.
Based on the complaint, the police have registered a case under Section 174 (death under suspicious circumstances) of the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code).
The child’s body was sent to a medical examiner’s office for an autopsy. The investigators later said the child’s autopsy result was inconclusive and that her internal organs will be sent for chemical analysis.
Meanwhile, Perambalur Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) C K Sanjeev Kumar told the Indian Express that the child’s autopsy results indicated that her cause of death may have been due to other causes besides her mother’s actions.
“She had been sick for a few days. She had stomach pain and was vomiting, which are symptoms of dengue or fever. The doctors said her lungs are clear, so we cannot say the death was because she inhaled the chili vapor. They have advised us to send the internal organs for chemical analysis, which may help us determine the cause of death,” the DSP said, adding that a further probe is underway as it might take a month or so to obtain the results of the analysis.