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Cops suspect foul play, may exhume Rameez's remains

After sustained media pressure, the police investigating the mysterious deaths of Versova siblings — Rehab and Rameez Chougle — have reached the conclusion that foul play may be involved. The post-mortem conducted on Rehab has revealed ‘suspicious injuries’ on her left thigh.

The brother and sister had died within hours of each other about two weeks ago. Though Rehab’s post-mortem was conducted, her Rameez’s was not done because police had initially suspected that the brother’s death was natural. “There is a strong chance that we will now exhume Rameez’s body for further analysis,” said a police officer, on condition of anonymity.


Driving a point: Shopkeeper Hitendra Shah arrived at the Andheri court driving his relative’s car, while pest controller Rukhsar Almelkar came in an autorickshaw. Both the accused were remanded in police custody till July 20 by the court. Pics/Rane Ashish

Rehab’s post-mortem also concluded that the 27-year-old blogger had died after exposure to phosphine gas from aluminium phosphide (AlP) pellets used during the pest control of their Versova flat.

Supplier arrested
On Monday night police arrested shopkeeper Hitendra Shah (41), from Borivli and pellets of aluminium phosphide were seized from him. It was these same tablets, which caused Rehab’s death, as confirmed by the post-mortem report.

Police stated pest controller Rukhsar Almelkar (32), had asked Shah to provide her with pesticide for bed bugs, but Shah gave her aluminium phosphide instead. Almelkar claims she had no idea how lethal this substance was. Almelkar purchased the pellets used for pest control at Chougle’s house from Shah on April 18.

Special treatment
Meanwhile, Almelkar and Shah were given special treatment by the police when they were brought to Andheri court yesterday. While Almelkar was brought to court in an auto rickshaw, Shah drove into the court premises in a car belonging to one of his relatives. The owner of the car was seated beside Shah, while two constables from the Versova police station were in the back seat.

After the hearing, Shah was escorted back to the vehicle, where the tinted windows were promptly rolled up. Despite repeated attempts to contact Additional Commissioner of Police (West Region) Vishwas Nangre-Patil, regarding the treatment of the suspects, he remained unavailable for comment. Both Almelkar and Shah have been charged under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and other sections of the Insecticides Act, 1968. Both the accused were remanded in police custody by the court till July 20. 

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