In shocking incident, a resident of a private de-addiction centre at Manali New Town here was allegedly beaten to death by four persons, including the owner of the centre, after he refused to take food on Sunday.

Though the accused persons tried to portray the death as natural, post-mortem conducted on the body at the Stanley Medical College and Hospital indicated grievous assault injuries, police sources said.

Mohamed Rafiq (35) of Mangulam in Guindy, an alcoholic, was admitted to the de-addiction and meditation centre on June 12. On Saturday night, the centre staff informed Rafiq's cousin Ahmed Jalal (37) that he had taken ill and was admitted to the hospital.

However, further enquiries revealed that Rafiq was brought dead to the hospital.

Suspecting foul play in the death, Jalal lodged a complaint with the Manali New Town police. Acting on the instructions of the Chennai Suburban Police Commissioner Karan Singha, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Madhavaram) A. Kayalvizhi formed a special team to investigate the case.

Preliminary enquiries revealed that Rafiq was attacked by four persons on Saturday evening after he refused to take food and raised his voice.

The centre's owner Dhanasekaran (52) of Kaviarasu Kannadasan Nagar and employees, Manivannan (40) of B.V. Colony, Kiran Kumar (32) of Karnataka and Srikanth (36) of Chinna Kodungaiyur who tried to escape were arrested on the Ponneri Highway on charges of murder. The accused persons confessed to having tortured Rafiq to death after he persistently refused to have food. They were produced in a Ponneri court and remanded to judicial custody.

Investigation revealed that Dhanasekaran was running the centre without a valid licence. Homeopathy medicines were given to inmates during the de-addiction process and many persons were discharged in the recent months.

“When the murder took place, about 42 inmates were in the centre. We have taken steps to send them back home. The centre will be closed after all inmates leave…we have deployed police personnel there,” Assistant Commissioner of Police (Madhavaram) M.M. Ashok Kumar said.