The condition of a five-year-old boy suspected to have been brutally tortured by his father and stepmother worsened on Friday.
On ventilator support in hospital, he had bouts of fits on Thursday night that affected his damaged brain further, said a doctor treating him at St. John's Hospital at Kattappana in Idukki district, around 250 km north of capital Thiruvananthapuram.
"Only 25% of his brain is working now. Though he's responding well to medicine, his chances of survival are bleak," the doctor who did not want to be named added.
The child has been battling for life since Tuesday, when his father and stepmother brought him to the hospital and claimed he was injured in a fall from a ladder.
The extent of his injuries, however, alarmed doctors. The frail child had serious head injuries, fractures on both legs and burn marks all over the body.
Amid such signs of apparent torture, doctors alerted the police.
On Tuesday, the police arrested the child's father Sherif and stepmother Aneesha on charges of attempted murder. They were produced before a court, at Peermedu in Idukki, which remanded them in 14 days' judicial custody, the police said.
Sherif and Aneesha claimed they did not harm the child. The police said the child lived with his father and stepmother after his parents separated. According to a police official, he has a brother, who lives in an orphanage.
Reports emerged that the child's mother had abandoned him. She visited him at the hospital and insisted she had never abandoned her son.
The battered child's condition has shocked the nation. People across the country and Kerala are praying for him and the state government has formed an official panel to draw up guidelines to ensure children's safety. The state is also considering formulating a separate law to prevent recurrence of such crimes.
Chief minister Oommen Chandy has instructed the district authorities and doctors to extend all possible help to save the child. "This is a extremely cruel incident. It is difficult for a civilised society to tolerate this kind of atrocities on children."
The cabinet on Wednesday pledged to bear the cost of the child's treatment. Chandy directed social justice minister MK Muneer to visit the child at the hospital.
Muneer, himself a doctor, said shifting the boy to another hospital was not advisable.
(With inputs from agencies)