The woman’s family concealed her death from relatives and neighbours. Police said to conceal foul odour, the family applied chemicals and burnt ‘loban’ (gum benzoin) in the house.
Four men allegedly preserved the body of their 70-year-old mother with chemicals for five months to draw her pension in Kabir Nagar area of Varanasi, police said on Wednesday.
The woman, Amaravati Devi, had been getting Rs 13,000 as pension after her husband’s death a few years ago, they added. The grotesque situation came to light after an anonymous caller tipped off the police.
“A resident of the area informed the police on Dial 100 that Amaravati Devi had reportedly died on January 13 this year but her family concealed her death from relatives and neighbours,” circle officer, Bhelupur, AP Singh.
Singh said the police reached the spot and sent the body for post-mortem examination.
The woman had five sons and a daughter. Her sons Ravi Prakash, Lalle Prakash, Tinu and Girish, and daughter Vijay Laxmi used to live with her. The fifth son, Jyoti Prakash, used to live separately.
A police officer said five blank cheques signed by Amaravati Devi were also recovered from the house during the initial investigation.
Pleading innocence, one of her sons Ravi Prakash told the police that her mother was in coma and they used to provide her medicines and milk daily. Two of the sons were employed while two stayed at home.
Residents told the police that Daya Prasad, a superintendent in customs department, passed away a few years ago after which his wife started getting pension.
A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said Amaravati fell ill in January this year and was admitted to Sir Sundarlal Hospital at the Benaras Hindu University (BHU).
“When her condition did not improve, the family brought her home where she died on January 13. Initially, the family announced her death but later one of her sons claimed he had seen movement in her hand and she was still alive. The family later claimed that she was in coma,” he said.
No one seemed to have questioned the sons why the comatose mother was not moved to a hospital.
Police said to conceal foul odour, they applied chemicals and burnt ‘loban’ (gum benzoin) in the house. Amaravati’s daughters-in-law also supported their husbands in the act, they claimed.
The circle officer said the exact cause of the death would be clear after the post-mortem. “We are waiting for the autopsy report after which a case will be registered under relevant sections,” he said.