An elderly woman died after a robber stabbed and pushed her into a well inside the Sri Ahobila Mutt in East Tambaram early on Sunday morning. The robber, who also fell into the well, died from injuries after being beaten up by the angry staff of the Mutt.
The incident sent shockwaves in East Tambaram, especially among the hundreds of devotees who had gathered at the Mutt for taking part in the on-going festivities.
Kanagavalli (69) belonged to Kancheepuram. Her husband, Vasudevan (72), was a staff at the Mutt, working as the warden of the hostel for students pursuing Vedic education at the patasala run by the Mutt. Kanagavalli would visit the Mutt in East Tambaram, whenever the pontiff (jeer) would camp. Mutt authorities said Kanagavalli would volunteer to clean the jeer’s quarters, draw ‘kolams’ and also help in preparing food.
On Saturday night, she slept at the mandapam and woke up at 3 a.m on Sunday. She had swept the jeer’s quarters and was mopping it, when around 4.30 a.m., a man scaled over the compound wall from the rear side of the Mutt. Noticing the robber, she raised an alarm, when he pulled out a knife and stabbed her. Police said the robber snatched ear rings, nose studs and other jewels worn by Kanagavalli.
Listening to the cries for help, Bashyam, secretary to the jeer, rushed to the quarters and noticed the robber attacking Kanagavalli. Mohammed Ghori, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Selaiyur Range, told reporters that the robber caught hold of Kanagavalli and jumped into the well along with her. The well measured around four feet in diameter.
He is reported to have pushed Kanagavalli’s face into the water, when she drowned. Bashyam called out for help and a group of Mutt staff and devotees rushed to the well. They first managed to pull the robber out of the well. The robber threatened them with a knife, but he was overpowered, tied up with a rope and beaten up.
Meanwhile, one of the temple staff jumped into the well and pulled out Kanagavalli, who had died due to drowning. Information reached Selaiyur police station and when they reached the spot, the robber was struggling for life. He was taken to a local clinic and later shifted to a private hospital in Pallikaranai, where he died.
Police refuted reports that the robber was first brought to the Selaiyur police station on a motorcycle for questioning. He was taken straight for medical attention, they added. Kanagavalli’s body was taken to Tambaram Taluk Government Hospital at Chromepet, where the robber’s body too was shifted from the private hospital.
The exact cause of the robber’s death could be ascertained only after post-mortem. The police mentioned that they were yet to establish his identity. However, the robber is reported to have told policemen while being shifted to the hospital that his name was K.Sathyaraj and that he was 35 years old and hailed from Madurantakam in Kancheepuram district. The police have yet to confirm this statement.
The jeer, Sri Narayana Yathindra Mahadesikan, has been camping at the Mutt to take part in festivities organised every year during the Tamil month of ‘aadi.’ This is a branch of the famed, centuries-old Ahobila Mutt.