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Versova siblings' death likely to remain a mystery

The police is baffled by the mysterious death of the Versova siblings Rameez Chougle (25) and his elder sister Rehab (27) (‘What killed Versova siblings within 24 hrs?’, July 7). According to investigating police officers, “The siblings had a similar history — dehydration and vomiting before death — and we wanted to find out whether there was any similarity in the autopsy findings, but this is possible only if Rameez’s body is exhumed and a post-mortem is conducted. But the parents are not co-operating; they are against this.”


Panchadhara building in Yari Road, Andheri (West) where siblings, Rehab and Rameez, lived. Pic/ Satyajit Desai

Sayauddin and Neha Chougle, parents of the deceased, believe that there was no foul play involved. They have also ruled out food poisoning, as Neha had cooked dinner that night. Their family doctor certified that Rameez died due to a cardiac arrest. Rehab, on the other hand, is said to have died of pneumonia and cerebral oedema.

Additional Commissioner of Police (West Region) Vishwas Nangre Patil, visited the parents on Saturday.

He was informed that no pest control was conducted at their residence.

In his statement to the police, Sayauddin stated that he rushed to Mumbai after he received a call from his wife on July 3. He visited Rehab as soon as he arrived. She even asked him to smile for her. Rehab was shifted from Criticare to the ICCU at Kokilaben hospital, on doctor’s recommendations, where she passed away on the evening of July 5.

The autopsy was conducted at Cooper post-mortem centre on July 6 morning.

The police have blamed the forensic surgeon at Cooper post-mortem centre for not preserving Rehab’s viscera. They state that the autopsy surgeon should have preserved the samples, as the girl died within 24 hours of admission to the hospital.

“On Saturday, a team of experts from the toxicology department of KFSL went to the Chougles’ flat and they collected a few samples and even photographed the place,” the police added.

The histopathology test which is done at JJ hospital would have ruled out any ailment and the chemical analyser findings at Kalina Forensic State Lab (KFSL) could have easily ruled out any poisoning. This would have provided more clarity on this case and prevented the confusion, explained a senior police officer. 

A forensic surgeon at the Cooper postmortem centre clarified that the Versova police, in their Accidental Death Register (ADR) form, had clearly stated that they did not suspect any poisoning or foul play and did not insist on the preservation of viscera.

Rukmini Krishnamurthy, former Director FSL and technical advisor to the state government, said, “Dead bodies buried and exhumed a few days later can still show traces of poisoning or other clues, if the visceral parts of the body remain intact.”

Another forensic expert explained that though bodies show signs of decomposition within 24 hours of burial during the monsoon but the actual decomposition begins only after 72 hours.

However, factors such as the place of burial, soil conditions and the depth of the spot where the body was laid to rest also play a significant role in decomposition of the body. 

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