The police in Kerala’s Kollam district said on Saturday that a woman’s husband and mother-in-law have been arrested for allegedly starving her to death over dowry, quoting the victim’s autopsy report. Police said Thushara, a resident of Karunagappally, was locked up and forced to consume only soaked rice and sugar syrup for days before she died at a government hospital in Kollam on March 21, PTI reported.

Thushara weighed just 20 kilograms at the time of her death, the police said. Thushara’s husband Chanthulal and his mother Geetha Lal were remanded in police custody on Friday.

The alleged torture came to light only after the woman died, the police said. “There was not an ounce of flesh on her when she passed away,” The News Minute quoted a sub-inspector at the Pooyapally police station as saying. “The doctor who performed the postmortem also confirmed that there were marks on her body which suggested that she was attacked by her husband and in-laws.”

“We initially filed an unnatural death case,” he added. “However, several neighbours told us that events leading up to the victim’s death were eerie. We began investigating and found out that this was a case of dowry harassment.”

The police officer said the victim’s husband and in-laws used to perform occult practices. He added that the neighbours claimed they never saw her. However, he denied reports which suggested that neighbours had filed 27 complaints about the sounds coming from the house, claiming no such complaints had been filed.

Thushara’s family said her husband and his family moved from Prakkulam to Oyur after they were chased away by neighbours for allegedly indulging in occult practices. However, the family added that in six years of marriage, Thushara had been allowed to visit them just twice, and never in the last one-and-a-half years.

“We had no idea that she was in this condition,” Thushara’s brother Tushant said. “They did not like us or any relatives visiting them and they were hostile. They did not even tell us or allow us to meet Thushara when she was pregnant.”