After a week of speculation on the mysterious deaths of Versova siblings Rameez and Rehab Chougle, the Verosva police have finally made a breakthrough in the case yesterday with the arrest of Rukhsar Almekar, a woman in her mid-twenties and a resident of Yari Road, who allegedly conducted pest control on the Chougle residence on the morning before the deaths.
Additional CP Vishwas Nangre Patil confirmed the arrest of Rukhsar under Section 304 of the IPC for culpable homicide not amounting for murder, after a team of police officers questioned her at length. Asked on what grounds Rukhsar had been arrested, Patil said, “We have booked her for using excessive chemicals without having proper licence or technical expertise to carry out pest control, and thereby endangering the life of the two siblings.”
Versova police called her in for questioning and later in the evening took her to Versova police station, where she was arrested. Rukhsar will be produced before the local Andheri Metropolitan Magsitrate Court today. “We will seek her remand and will conduct further custodial interrogation, after which the investigation would make further headway.”
Patil hinted that more arrests were likely to be made in the case shortly, and that additional sections of the IPC would be added to the case.
Rukhsar has revealed to cops that she was a Humanities graduate and that she did not have mandatory licence and technical expertise to run a pest control business.
A senior police officer said, “Rukhsar informed the police that she learnt about pest control methods from the Internet, and after investing minimally into the business, she reaped huge profits.”
The siblings’ father Gayasuddin (54) had confirmed with the police that the residence had been pest controlled on July 3. Asked if the bodies of the siblings would be exhumed, he said, Patil said, “A high level committee of experts, including forensic scientists, surgeons and a special team of cops will be formed, and the future course of action will be determined on the basis of their findings.”
Expert: Aluminum phosphide never used for pest control
Vinod Parekh, a senior member of the Indian Pest Control Association explained that Aluminum Phosphide is a highly toxic Phosphine gas that is used only for fumigation purposes by the Food Corporation of India and Central Warehousing Corporation to preserve food grains.
This too is done under the supervision of trained experts and in a planned manner. According to Parekh, guidelines and specific instructions are given to dealers stating that Aluminum Phosphide cannot be sold across the counters. In spite of this, there is no control over the black marketing of the chemical. It is usually available in tablet form, which is whitish grey in colour. The tablet costs approximately Rs 300 per kilogram. Parekh also added that the tablet, when it comes in contact with water or moisture, starts emitting a poisonous gas. This gas is heavier than air, and gradually settles down in closed rooms. Its impact lasts for 12-36 hours, but is diminished if windows and doors are opened wide. Parekh expressed suspicion about the manner in which Rukhsar laid her hands on the tablets and why she used it to get rid of a bed bug infestation in the Chougle residence.