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The mother had allegedly made the child inhale vapours from chilli powder mixed in hot water and then branded her to make her stop stealing.

PERAMBALUR:  A 10-year-old girl died in Perambalur on Sunday, two days after her mother allegedly branded her on her thigh and mouth for stealing. Police have registered a case of suspicious death and are investigating.

The deceased was identified as Mahalakshmi, the eldest of three children of Raja and Manimegalai (FULL NAMES). According to police, the Class 3 student of Veppanthattai Panchayat Union Primary School in Perambalur, was often in trouble for stealing money from her parents and spending it on snacks with her friends. Manimegalai had repeatedly scolded her for this, police said..

On January 6, Mahalakshmi is said to have gone to her uncle Murugan’s house nearby and taken Rs 70 without his knowledge. When Murugan found out about this, he informed Manimegalai, the police said.

That evening, Manimegalai brought her child home and scolded her. She allegedly forced Mahalakshmi to inhale vapours from chilli powder mixed in hot water and branded the child’s mouth and thigh with a hot spoon. Police said the child’s injuries did not heal and she developed a fever.

Veppanthattai (South) VAO K Sathishkumar said “The child’s mother severely punished her daughter for taking money from a relative’s house. The child was also unable to eat for three days as inhaling the chilli powder-water affected her nose and stomach.”

He added that the child’s parents are daily wage labourers and are illiterate. On Saturday, Manimegalai took Mahalakshmi to the Krishnapuram government hospital. The child was later shifted to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital in Tiruchy.

However, she died early Sunday morning. Sathishkumar lodged a complaint with the Arumbavur police. Inquiries led by Arumbavur inspector (in-charge) T Jeyachithra suggested Manimegalai’s relative, Malliga had a role in the incident.

“We have registered the case under Section 174 of the IPC. The child’s mother admitted to branding her daughter with a hot spoon but said she did not do so on purpose. The child’s autopsy is scheduled for Monday. Only then will I be able to take proper action,” Jeyachithra said.

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