Mumbai: Two cops booked after woman hangs self over 'false' dowry case

Aug 30, 2016, 08:10 IST | Vijay Kumar Yadav

After two years of battling allegations of dowry harassment, a 28-year-old woman committed suicide in Worli on August 11. She left a suicide note claiming that she and her family were being persecuted by her sister-in-law and the police with an allegedly false dowry case. Cops have booked all seven people named in the suicide note, including two cops.

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Vaishali Patekar was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her home
Vaishali Patekar was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her home

Vaishali Lavu Patekar was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her fourth-floor flat in Akansha Heights building, Gandhi Nagar on August 11. At the time of her death, she was the in the house with her grandmother, who is 91-years-old. Family members rushed her to Hinduja Hospital, where she was declared dead.

Later, they discovered a suicide note that Vaishali had written in Hindi and had left in the house. In it, Vaishali blamed her brother’s wife Ritika for registering a false case of dowry harassment against her, her brother and other family members.

Dowry case
The dowry case was registered in 2014 at the NM Joshi Marg police station. Vaishali’s brother (husband to the dowry complainant Ritika) was arrested in the matter. Other family members, including Vaishali herself, were granted relief from arrest by the high court. Her brother was also let out on bail later, but the family is still accused and the case is currently under trial at the local court.

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In her suicide note, Vaishali named Ritika and her sister Shraddha, father Arun Chavan and his friends Narendra Wadekar and Uttam Sandav. She wrote that it was under the influence of Wadekar and Sandav (who belongs to a political party) that the police registered an FIR directly and refused to even hear the family’s defence. She also named the then senior inspector of NM Joshi Marg police station Shankarsing Rajput, along with the investigating officer of the dowry case, Assistant Inspector Nitu Tayade.

Based on a complaint from Vaishali’s father, the Worli police have since registered an FIR under Sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC against all seven people named in the note. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone III) Pravin Padwal confirmed this to mid-day and added that investigations are on.

Vaishali’s father, Lavu Patekar said, “Because of Ritika’s false case, Vaishali was facing tremendous mental harassment, as the case had defamed her and the entire family. She used to come to me and cry that they had all been labelled as criminals. She was innocent and could not bear the false allegations, so she ended her life.”

A day later, Vaishali’s sister found yet another note in her purse. The second note was a continuation of the suicide letter. Vaishali wrote that she kept this second part separately as a safety precaution, in case the police tried to destroy the first note. She added that she could no longer bear the pain of false allegations against her and taking the extreme step. She also asked for forgiveness from her father.

Verification underway
One of the officers from Worli police station said that they have sought past diaries or books maintained by Vaishali so they can send these to handwriting experts to confirm whether the handwriting is a match to the suicide notes. Worli Police claim they are yet to receive the writing samples from Vaishali’s family.

'Cops were doing their duty'
An officer privy to the investigation said that the police were merely doing their duty by registering and investigating the dowry harassment case. “If every investigation officer is accused in FIRs then the police department cannot function,” said the officer.

Dreaded law
>> Section 498(A), the dowry harassment section of the IPC, has become a dreaded law and is often misused in domestic clashes
>> It calls for stringent and immediate action – the police are required to register the offence and begin investigations at once 
>> After preliminary investigations, if the cops find anything suspicious, they can make immediate arrest
>> The onus is on the accused to prove their innocence

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