A 29-year-old man died at a private mental health clinic in Kovilambakkam near Tambaram on Wednesday. His family and friends have alleged foul play.

The Pallikaranai police have registered a case and are investigating. The clinic where the deceased, Vijay, was undergoing treatment for more than a month said he had died of a heart attack.

A B.Com graduate who was pursuing M.Com through correspondence, Vijay was the son of V. Muthu (54), a mason, and Ilankali, residents of Tiruvanmiyur. He had also worked in a private auditing firm in T. Nagar.

According to his parents, Vijay began showing symptoms of mental instability a few months ago and was taken to various government and private hospitals for treatment.

They were told that Vijay needed to be admitted to a residential facility to be cured completely.

“I put him in a private residential centre in Kovilambakkam on May 29 and paid Rs. 20,000 as the monthly fee and other charges. I was told we could meet our son on the first of every month on paying of the monthly fee.

“I could not mobilise enough funds this month. On Wednesday morning, somebody from the clinic called up saying my son was seriously unwell. I rushed to the clinic with my wife and younger son only to be handed Vijay’s body. The clinic staff said he had died of a heart attack,” Mr. Muthu told reporters at the Tambaram Taluk Government Hospital in Chromepet on Wednesday evening.

A large number of Vijay’s friends who had gathered at the hospital told reporters that Vijay had been athletic and fit. He played chess, volleyball and other outdoor games and did not have a history of cardiac problems.

Alleging foul play, Mr. Muthu and Vijay’s friends appealed to the Chennai city police to conduct a detailed probe into the death of the youngster.

Neither Mr. Muthu nor the Pallikaranai police had the contact details of the private clinic on Wednesday. A case under Section 174 (death under mysterious circumstances) of the Code of Criminal Procedure was registered at the police station.

On Wednesday night, relatives and friends of Vijay staged a road roko on ECR in Tiruvanmiyur demanding police action against the private clinic.

The crowds dispersed after the police promised to bring the guilty to book.

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