Consumption couldn’t have been accidental, says Joint chemical examiner; family demands CBI probe into death
The mystery over Malayalam film actor Kalabhavan Mani’s sudden death earlier this month has deepened. Chemical analyses of his viscera samples show a high presence of pesticide in them. The development has compelled his family to demand a CBI probe into the death.
The report from the Chemical Examiner’s Laboratory, Ernakulam, which shows the presence of insecticide chlorpyrifos in actor Kalabhavan Mani’s viscera samples
mid-day is in possession of the chemical analysis report issued by the Regional Chemical Examiners Laboratory, Ernakulam, which found chlorpyrifos, a toxic organophosporous insecticide, methyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol, in the viscera samples sent from Medical College, Thrissur, where the postmortem was performed on March 7.
The samples were taken from the stomach, the intestine, a part of the liver, a kidney, blood collected from a vein as well as the inferior venacava (a vein that carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower body to the heart). The 25 ml blood sample collected from the neck vein contained 2.68 mg of methyl alcohol and 0.19 mg of ethyl alcohol, and the 30 ml sample from the inferior vena cava contained 2.76 mg of methyl alcohol and 3 mg of ethyl alcohol.
The report also states that chlorpyrifos is a toxic ingredient of an insecticide sold under common trade name Dursban and that methyl alcohol is a highly toxic volatile poison.
Intent to kill
MK Nair, joint chemical examiner to the Kerala government who prepared the report, told mid-day, “Chlorpyrifos is usually used for killing termites and other insects on crops, which, if taken by humans, can affect the central nervous systems. The presence of methyl alcohol, in this case, is larger than that of ethyl alcohol, together forming a deadly combination of poisoning. We have submitted our findings to the Thrissur Medical College, which later informed the police. It is now up to the police to probe if it was a case of homicidal or suicidal death.”
Asked if this could be an accidental consumption, Nair said the quantity found in the viscera samples clearly shows that it was added with an intent to either kill or cause death.
The Chalakkudy police had initially registered the death under Section 174 of the CrPC and believed that the actor had died of liver cirrhosis.
Kerala Director General of Police TP Senkumar, told mid-day from Thiruvananthapuram, “The local police investigating the matter is on the right track and it will be too premature to divulge any information on the case at this point in time.”
IGP (Thrissur) Ajit Kumar said in the wake of submission of the report, the investigation will now look into all possible angles, including the source through which the pesticide entered Mani’s body. He said no detention has been made in the case.
Asked how Amrita Institute of Medical Science and Research Centre, Kochi, where the 45-year-old actor died, missed the presence of pesticide in his blood — given that it had first raised the suspicion of methyl alcohol poisoning — Kumar said, “We will have to explore that point by speaking to the hospital authorities again.”
Dr Ramkrishnan UK, clinical assistant professor of the department of forensic medicine, at Amrita, said, “I was not part of the team of doctors that treated the actor. The head of the toxicology department informed us that some poison was found in the blood sample and as per the hospital norms of directing all medico-legal cases to the police, the same was done at my end.” The hospital’s toxicology head, Dr VV Pillai, refused to divulge any information when asked how the authorities had failed to detect pesticide.
A police official attached to the Cheranalloor police station in Ernakulam, which was alerted about the poisoning, said, “As the actor suffered from liver cirrhosis and those who brought him to the hospital told the doctors that he had consumed liquor the previous night, the hospital may have only tested the blood for the presence of methyl alcohol.”
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Ernakulam) Vijayan KV said a police team from Thrissur has already visited Amrita hospital and have recorded the statements of the doctors who treated Mani.
Foul play: Family
RLV Ramkrishnan, the actor’s brother and professional dancer, said the family wants the probe to be handed over to the CBI. Anirudh MG, a close family friend, questioned how Mani’s three aides — Arun, Vipin and Murugan — who were drinking with him the night before his death had displayed no sign of methyl alcohol or pesticide poisoning.
“Right after Mani’s death, the three visited the outhouse and cleaned the entire crime scene. We have an eyewitness who saw the trio leaving the outhouse with gunny bags, and upon questioning, the three confessed to cleaning up the place as the owner of the property (Mani) would never return. This statement actually raised more suspicion against them. The police and excise team who visited the outhouse after the death did not find anything there.”