Post-mortem reveals celeb perfumer Monika Ghurde was strangled

Even as Goa police confirms cause of death in perfumer Monika Ghurde’s murder, writer-historian William Dalrymple remembers his collaboration with her on ittars for an article that, ironically, will be out next month

Monika Ghurde

Panaji: Police are yet to get a breakthrough in the murder of perfume expert Monika Ghurde (39), who was found dead in her apartment in Sangolda village, 7 km from Panaji, in Goa on Thursday morning. Yet, they are reportedly hopeful of cracking the case in a day or two.

Monika Ghurde
Monika Ghurde

The autopsy, conducted last afternoon, however, confirmed their suspicion that Ghurde had been strangled, revealing that the death was caused “due to asphyxia caused by compression of mouth and neck”.

Monika Ghurde’s three-bedroom flat in Sangolda village, 7 km from Panaji, Goa
Monika Ghurde’s three-bedroom flat in Sangolda village, 7 km from Panaji, Goa

Confirming this, Inspector Jivba Dalvi of Porvorim police station, which is also helping out with the probe, said, “The autopsy report states that she died of strangulation.”

Probe teams fan out
Goa DGP Muktesh Chander said over 50 persons, including Ghurde’s estranged husband, Bharath Ramamrutham, brother Anand (who found the body), and the domestic help (who sounded the alarm), have been questioned. The security guard of the building where Ghurde lived, too, was questioned, but was reportedly unable to provide any information on any visitor(s) to her apartment on the day of the murder. “We are checking CCTV cameras in the vicinity,” said Chander. Multiple police teams have been formed and sent to Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Sources said no police team from Goa has yet reached Nagpur, Ghurde’s hometown.

Sources at the Saligao police station, which has jurisdiction over Sangolda village, said the police are likely to solve the case “within the next one to two days”.

They added that the Goa Police is trawling through Ghurde’s mobile phone call records.

No confirmation of rape
Inspector Rajesh Kumar from Saligao police station, who is the investigating officer, declined to offer specific details. “There is no CCTV camera footage available from the apartment complex [where Ghurde lived]. There is no confirmation of rape.

Only a serological examination (testing for bodily fluids, including semen) can confirm sexual assault. This may take around 15 days as Goa does not have a laboratory to conduct such a test. Samples are usually sent to Hyderabad or Chennai.

Ramamrutham declined to comment. “I’m not interested in giving any sound bytes.” Jayawant Ghurde, Ghurde’s brother who practises law in Nagpur, too, refused to talk.

Ghurde’s body has been handed over to her family, and she is expected to be cremated in Goa today.

(With inputs by Pamela D’Mello, Dharmendra Jore, Jane Borges and Shraddha Uchil)

In recent years, Sangolda village has seen a spike in real estate projects
In recent years, Sangolda village has seen a spike in real estate projects

Not a village, not yet a city
Like many north Goa villages, Sangolda is metamorphosing; it is neither completely urban nor quaint. But, its close proximity to Panaji (7 km) as well the beaches and clubs of Calangute and Baga (8 km) has attracted developers and buyers alike. Buyers looking to invest in second holiday homes find Sangolda ripe for the picking. Flats and villas in the village are often given out on rent or lease to tourists, long-stayers or a floating population.

Devastated

Kornelia Santoro, Goa-based Bavarian cookbook author
I just saw her last week at a literary gathering. She came alone, but she looked absolutely normal. She lived just a few hundred metres away from my house. We lived in the same village. It is a gated community, and an upscale area. For us, this is a nightmare.

Astad Deboo, Contemporary dancer
I had choreographed a work with the dancers of Clarke School for the Deaf in Chennai and she came to photograph us. She was open to suggestions. Later, she moved on to being a perfumer, but we stayed in touch.

Bharath Ramamrutham

A close family friend
Bharath (husband) was always enormously gentle, patient and kind as well as admiring and understanding of Monika. He is completely devastated. He was close to her family, and Monika’s brother and mother sometimes stay with him when in Goa.

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