Man locked daughter in dark room for 5 years

BANGALORE: An abusive and miserly father set a new low for parenthood, locking his daughter in a dark and dank room without sanitation for five years after probably driving her batty by refusing to finance her chartered accountancy course. The woman, now 35, was rescued on Tuesday after neighbours complained about hearing her cries for food.

Hemavathi Renukappa, who was found in the stinking room lying in her underwear, was taken to Nimhans, where doctors said she had suffered from severe mental trauma. She was first admitted to the ICU and then shifted to the psychiatric ward.

Police said Hemavathi smelled horribly when she was shifted to hospital. “Her hair had become matted as they had not been oiled or combed for years. Her nails had grown more than two inches, showing the extent of ill-treatment she had faced,” a relative said.

Hemavathi’s neighbours alerted the media and sent officials rushing to her small home in Malleswaram, an affluent neighbourhood in old Bangalore. “We heard her crying for food on Monday night. We decided enough was enough and alerted the media,” Shanmugappa M, a neighbour and distant relative, told TOI.

Police said they are waiting for the medical report and questioning the family and neighbours.

Among those who went to the house was Karnataka’s health minister UT Khader. “I am feeling low. You will realize this if you look at me closely. Please help me,” Hemavathi muttered to Khader.

Neighbours said nobody was allowed near the house because Renukappa, the father, would start abusing them. “He abused everyone. He has broken ties with his brothers and other family members,” Bhaskar Reddy, a businessman and distant relative, told TOI. Hemavathi is the eldest child of the family. Her younger brother works in a private company in New Delhi, while the other is a diploma holder.

Hemavathi’s father, a realtor, told police he had no choice but to confine her to home. “She is suffering from neurological problems. We have not locked her up,” he said. However, he refused to talk to reporters who swarmed his two-bedroom home with shabby walls that seemed not have been painted for decades. The poor lighting and ventilation appear to have contributed to Hemavathi’s trauma.

Renukappa allegedly refused to hire a nurse or assistant for Hemavathi citing financial constraints. Her mother, Putta Gowramma, was not allowed to speak up for her daughter and was beaten up by her husband every time she did so.

Neighbours recall Hemavathi as a bubbly girl with ambition. She cleared her school boards with distinction and came out of her BCom exams with flying colours. Her troubles began soon after she enrolled for her chartered accountancy course and started interning with an auditor’s firm.

“Actually, Hema wanted to do an MBA in finance. But Renukappa said it would cost him a lot. That’s why Hema opted for CA,” said M Shivamurthy, her first cousin.

Another relative, Anjaneya Reddy, said the obstinate father did not even allow the family to watch TV. “Have you seen any house in Bangalore that does not have a TV connection? Renukappa’s must be the only one.”