`Usury harassment led to mass murder by Madurai doctor'

MADURAI SEPT. 6 . Even as mystery shrouds the sudden death yesterday of K. Renganathan, a medical practitioner who allegedly murdered five of his family members at Tahsildar Nagar under Karuppayoorani police limits in Madurai last year, the investigating agency today confirmed that usury harassment provoked the accused to kill his kin by administering cyanide.

Renganathan was reported missing ever since the police found his mother, Venkatammal; wife, Usha Rani; son, Madhav Krishna; daughter, Brindha; and son-in-law, Sriram, dead in their Tahsildar Nagar residence on August 28 last year. A virtual manhunt was launched by the district police to apprehend the suspected murderer and special teams conducted combing operations in various parts of the country, but in vain.

On September 4, the Kancheepuram police alerted their counterparts here that a person resembling Renganathan had been taken into custody by them on suspicion. A special team led by the Oomachikulam Inspector, E. Vijay Kumar, went to Kancheepuram the next morning and confirmed the identity of the accused.

According to the police, Renganathan developed chest pain at Villupuram while he was being brought to Madurai. Though the escort police rushed him to the nearest hospital, doctors declared him dead soon after admission. The body was shifted to the Villupuram Government Hospital and the post-mortem report is pending chemical analysis.

Interestingly, the police who accompanied the accused are not ruling out the possibility of the doctor having consumed poison before he boarded the police van to Madurai. "Though the symptoms on the deceased before death clearly indicated a heart attack, the possibility of his having consumed poison cannot be ruled out," a police official said.

Meanwhile, Renganathan is said to have confessed that he murdered his family members unable to bear the torture of usury moneylenders from whom he had borrowed about Rs. 20 lakhs.

During preliminary interrogation by the Madurai police, he admitted that he was in Goa, Bangalore and Hydeberad during his year-long run. In March this year, he joined the `Rural Women Social Education Centre' at Karumarapakkam, near Kancheepuram, as medical officer.

"He broke down while explaining how he killed his wife and children. The doctor administered a sedative injection on the victims on the pretext of giving a Hepatitis-B vaccine. When all the five gained consciousness after a few hours, he gave them cyanide capsules," a police official said and added that the accused tried to perform a ritual by setting his mother's feet on fire.

Meanwhile, the body of Renganathan, handed over to his relatives by the Madurai police this evening, was cremated at Villupuram, the police said.

RDO probe

Meanwhile the Villupuram Collector, K. Gopal, has ordered an RDO enquiry into the death.

The Revenue Divisional Officer, Singaram Munirathnam, said the enquiry had been ordered as per Section 145 of the Police Standing Order. As the accused died while he was being transported by the police, it would be treated as a custodial death.

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