Indrani Mukerjea at JJ: Hinduja says 'drug overdose'; Kalina says no

Following various protocols, JJ dean sends urine samples to two labs. They send contradicting reports

Even as officials at JJ Hospital on Saturday said Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, was in a critical condition, a debate is on across city laboratories over the findings of tests done on her blood and urine samples.

Also read: Sheena Bora case - Indrani Mukerjea critical, next 48 hours crucial

A photograph of Indrani with husband Peter MukerjeaA photograph of Indrani with husband Peter Mukerjea

Indrani, who is in judicial custody at the Byculla Women’s Hospital, was admitted to the hospital on Friday afternoon. Jail authorities said she had woken up that morning complaining of dizziness and though she was given medication, her health kept deteriorating. Sources at the hospital said, on Saturday, her condition had improved and she had opened her eyes, moved her fingers and legs.

‘Drug overdose’
A urine sample sent to Hinduja Hospital revealed 10 times the level of the chemical benzodiazepine than what is considered a safe limit. Benzodiazepines is a central nervous system depressant and is used to sedate patients, help them sleep, prevent seizures, ease anxiety and relax muscle spasms.

Also read: Sheena Bora case: Indrani Mukerjea's lawyer seeks court nod to meet her

Dr T P Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital, said that the chemical is present in the medicine Etizolam, an anti-depressant that was prescribed to Mukerjea along with the medicine Mirtzapine/Olanzapine, by the jail's consulting psychiatrist Dr Sarika Dixit, an associate professor, attached to Grant Medical College.

The Hinduja report found that the levels of benzodiazepine in Indrani's urine sample was 2,088 ng/mL which is 10 times the permissible limit of 200 ng/mL.

Kalina denies overdose
The Hinduja findings, however, contradict findings by the Forensic Science Laboratory at Kalina, which reported that tests on blood and urine samples and a stomach wash of Mukerjea showed negative results for drug overdose.

On why samples were sent to both Hinduja and the Kalina lab, Dr Lahane said it was merely a matter of protocol as urine samples are always sent to Hinduja, as its laboratory science department is affiliated to JJ.

Since Mukerjea's case was a medico-legal one, the samples had to be sent to the Kalina FSL. "While the FSL has the expertise to examine stomach wash and blood for poisoning in drug overdose cases, we have our reservations over their urine tests, hence another opinion (Hinduja) was also sought," Lahane said.

Explaining “differences”
On why the FSL report might have been negative, Lahane said the body absorbs the drug within three hours of consumption of tablets. "Hence, nothing could be found in the stomach wash and blood. Differences in the urine reports could be because the FSL might be using an old method of testing."

Also read: Sheena Bora case - Did mother's demise drive Indrani to attempt suicide?

IGP Bipin Kumar Singh, who is inquiring into the Bora murder case, said, “I wonder how the same sample can give two different findings at two different laboratories. We are waiting for Indrani to regain consciousness, so that her statement can be recorded. I have already started my inquiry.”

— With Inputs by Sagar Rajput

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