Police Arrest Parents Who Were Trying to Bring Their Dead Child Back to Life

Police say the family are devout members of a Christian denomination that does not believe in medical treatment for diseases.
Rimal Farrukh
Islamabad, PK
resurrection, faith healing, child abuse, South asia, Sri Lanka
10-year-old Maleesha Thulakshana's parents were trying to resurrect him through prayer after his death on Feb 7. in a village in Andimulla town, Sri Lanka. Photo used for illustrative purposes only. Photo: Juanmonino/Getty Images.

As the putrid stench emanating from a house in a Sri Lankan village became unbearable, residents called the police to take a look. On the evening of Feb. 9, the cops followed their noses to the house and, upon entering, they saw the decomposing body of a 10-year-old child on a bed, where his parents were expecting him to come back to life. 

The child, Maleesha Thulakshana, had been diagnosed with autoimmune, thyroid and kidney diseases, and had been severely ill earlier that week, the police said. An autopsy on Feb. 12 found the child positive for COVID-19 at the time of his death, with phlegm causing a respiratory blockage. His parents and maternal grandmother allegedly denied the child medical treatment and had been praying to heal him instead. Their village is only 24 miles from Sri Lanka’s capital city Colombo, where medical facilities are easily accessible. Police say the child died on Feb. 7, and his family continued praying over his corpse for two days in hopes of bringing him back to life.  

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“They didn’t take this boy to the doctor. As a treatment, the parents were praying for his recovery. While they were praying the boy died but they continuously prayed to reawaken him,” police spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa told VICE World News. Investigators have yet to release the official cause of Thulakshana’s death.

The family, especially the child’s mother Inasiyan Maduwanthi, are devout members of a Christian denomination called the Gospel of God that allegedly teaches prayer as a solution to illnesses instead of medical treatment. 

“According to their system, the pastors of the assembly don’t believe in medical treatment for patients. They believe in praying. However, the pastors are denying it and saying that they never told the public not to get treatments for diseases,” said Thalduwa.

Thulakshana’s paternal grandmother M.D. Rani, told local press that the family had previously been Roman Catholics and had converted to the new denomination in August last year.

“They joined a new faith that claimed to cure those who were severely ill and they believed that they could raise the dead back to life,” said Rani. 

The child’s parents had initially provided for and continued his medical treatment for months even after joining the new church. Over time, however, the church allegedly asked them to “stop giving medicine and to keep praying in order to cure the child,” Rani said. The child had reportedly stopped receiving medical treatment by Jan. 19. 

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VICE World News was unable to reach the Gospel of God representatives for comment.

Thulakshana’s parents and maternal grandmother were arrested on Feb 11. His mother remains under judicial remand until Feb. 18, while his father and grandmother were released on bail. 

The child’s family is poor, the police told VICE World News, and people in their village are mostly poor or lower middle class.

Faith healing practises have been on the rise in Sri Lanka since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In January of 2021, self-proclaimed holy man Dhammika Bandara’s “miracle” potion for “curing” COVID-19 led to thousands defying public gathering restrictions to acquire the concoction. It was also consumed by politicians, some of whom were eventually infected and hospitalised with the virus. 

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