Keralite who published own obit taken into custody

He was found by police in Kottayam nearly a week after he vanished

Thiruvananthapuram: A septuagenarian in Kerala who gave the news of his own ‘demise’ to newspapers, paid for obituary advertisements in some newspapers and then vanished was taken into custody on Tuesday.

The 74-year-old Joseph Melukunnel, hailing from Kuttikol in Thaliparamba in north Kerala, was found by police in Kottayam nearly a week after he vanished.

Last Wednesday, he had gone around newspaper offices in Kannur district, giving the news of his ‘death’ and an advertisement about the same. When these appeared on Thursday, his wife Marykutty alerted the police and a search had been on for him since then.

His brief life in hiding ended on Tuesday when he was picked up by the police in Kottayam. On Monday, he had gone to the local office of an agricultural development bank in Kottayam and asked the bank manager how a package containing a gold chain and some money could be sent to Kannur.

He explained to the manager that a man by name Joseph Melukunnel had passed away and that the package was for the wife of the ‘deceased’ man.

When the manager of the bank in Kottayam contacted his colleague in Kannur, the latter told him that Melukunnel was the man who had gone into hiding after giving his own obituary to newspapers.

Melukunnel got suspicious about the telephonic conversation between the two bank managers and quickly fled the scene, but police soon located him and took him into custody.

The reasons for his giving the news of his own ‘death’ and the subsequent disappearance from home are yet to be ascertained by police.

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