In an incident that has left the Cuddalore district shocked, three people, including two women, were arrested and a manhunt launched for an absconding man after they murdered a 5-year-old girl child who belonged to a family that was allegedly forced into bonded labour by them. The Neyveli Police registered an FIR in this regard three days ago but is yet to nab the missing culprit.

According to sources, the absconding man, Arun Murugan, was a money lender. A couple - Uthandi and Rajeshwari, who had three minor daughters, had borrowed some money from him three years ago. When they were unable to repay the loan, Arun Murugan allegedly forced the family to move into his farm as bonded labourers. The couple and their eldest child - who is seven years old - used to work on the farm. The family was not given any remuneration apart from food and Arun's mother Kamalam allegedly was irritated that the two younger girls - aged 5 and 3 - could not be put to work.

As this was, Uthandi and Rajeshwari reportedly tried to talk to Arun Murugan about allowing the five-year-old child to begin school. This allegedly enraged Kamalam further. On October 26, the children were all playing on the terrace of the house, with a family friend named Iyyappan watching over. They had left a batch of groundnuts to dry on the terrace and the children were reportedly playing around it. The five-year-old girl reportedly tread on the groundnuts, enraging Iyyappan. He caught the child by her hair and dashed her against the wall, killing her instantly.

Later, Arun Murgan, his wife Anjalai, Iyyapan and Kamalam together buried the body in their cashew grove. The family was threatened against speaking to anybody over the matter and allegedly were kept confined in the house. Uthandi reportedly escaped earlier this week and reached the Neyveli Police station, where a case was registered. The rest of the family were rescued and Kamalam, Anjalai and Iyyappan, who were picked up, located the dead body in the cashew grove. The body was taken for an autopsy and the trio arrested. A search was on for Arun Murugan, who went absconding on the same day.