Versova siblings' death still remains a mystery
Even as authorities rush to file a final chargesheet in the Rameez and Rehab case, forensic experts are waiting for answers from the police over crucial questions regarding the suspected poisoning
It's been a year since Versova siblings Rehab and Rameez Chougle passed away and their family is yet to find any closure, as the police are yet to complete their probe into their mysterious deaths, raising doubts about the manner in which the probe has been carried out.
While the authorities say they are nearing completion of their probe and will be filing the chargesheet within a week, city-based lawyers are claiming that there are still several loose ends that need be tied.
Lawyers wonder why the authorities are going ahead with the chargesheet even though they have failed to answer a series of questions raised by a high-level expert committee of doctors formed under the chairmanship of Police Surgeon SM Patil and was assisted by Dr Shailesh Mohite, head and professor of forensics medicine, Nair Medical College.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Dr Mohite said that apart from suggesting the exhumation of the bodies, the committee had even asked for some details to specific questions (see box), answers to which the authorities haven’t submitted till date, even though two reminders were sent to them -- one around October 2012 and March 2013.
Dr Mohite further added, “Even after Rameez’s body was exhumed and the toxicology report from Kalina FSL confirmed that Rameez like his sister died after ingesting aluminium phosphide and that the levels of the substance were too high, the authorities still haven’t responded to our queries.”
Additionally, even after a year, the cops have failed to trace the accused Salim, who according to the police was the aide of the pest control contractor Rukhsar Almelkar and had allegedly carried out the pest control at Chougle’s residence at Panch Dhara, Versova.
On July 3, 2012, pest control was carried out at the siblings’ flat in Panch Dhara Society, Versova.
A few hours later, Rameez started vomiting and was declared dead before he could be shifted to hospital. Following that, Rehab too started vomiting and two days later, she passed away. Rameez’s body was buried without conducting a post-mortem.
The case took a mysterious turn when the FSL report suggested that Rameez’s stomach had traces of aluminium phosphide.
The police made the first headway in the case by arresting Rukhsar Almelkar, the woman who was contracted by the Chougle family to pest control the home. Subsequently, Borivli shopkeeper Hitendra Shah who supplied the chemicals and Pune-based chemical supplier P Parikh were also arrested. All three were later released on bail.
In case of Rameez, a family doctor had certified his death as natural and his body was not sent for an autopsy. But later, his corpse was exhumed on September 20, and it was confirmed that even he had ingested aluminium phosphide.
The police officers didn’t even ask the post-mortem forensics surgeon at Cooper Hospital to preserve Rehab’s viscera for histopathology and chemical analysis findings.
Questions still to be answered
>> The qualifications and expertise of the doctors who treated the siblings at both Criti Care and Kokilaben Ambani hospital
>> Clinical treatment queries such as when and who collected Rehab’s stomach wash, how it was preserved and who was the custodian of the same until the wash was handed over to the police?
>> The post-mortem requisition form filled in at Kokilaben did not mention the line of treatment for ‘suspected poisoning’ in the remarks column. Why did the doctor not mention the same, if he was actually the treating doctor?
>> How did Dr Aslam Momin, a homeopath, conclude that Rameez died a natural death? The doctor’s statement recorded by the police does not mention the details.
>> The police have been asked to find out from Dr Kshitij Mehta why he did not inform the police about the demise of Rameez.