Kerala, January 22:

The Mundakayam Police in Kerala Thursday arrested a man for locking his elderly parents in a room, denying them proper food and medical aid for weeks. While the accused’s father died of acute starvation en route to the hospital on Tuesday, his mother is currently under treatment at a government hospital.

An officer at the Mundakayam police station said that Reji, who did odd jobs for a living, has been charged with section 304A of the IPC (causing death by negligence) and 4(1) read with 24 of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. He will be produced before the local magistrate Friday.

The officer said it was not clear why Reji subjected his frail parents to such torture.

Reji’s father Podiyan (80) and mother Ammini (76) were found in a decrepit state by local health workers at their residence at Asambani in Mundakayam panchayat Tuesday.

Neighbours told health workers that the couple was grossly ill-treated without food and medicine by their younger son Reji, who lived with his wife in an adjoining room in the house. In the past, when neighbours attempted to feed and assist the couple, Reji, an alcoholic, would pick fights with them. He also tied a dog at the entrance of the room to ward off any outsiders.

Though the couple was rescued by health and social justice officials, Podiyan died while he was being ferried to the Kanjirappilly taluk hospital. Ammini, who showed signs of mental illness as a result of being locked in a room for long periods, is said to be stable at the Kottayam Medical College hospital where she is undergoing treatment.

Local media reports said preliminary findings of the post-mortem examination of Podiyan pointed to malnutrition and absence of food and water in his system, leading to shrinkage of internal organs.