2 years later: Still no clarity on who or what killed Versova siblings

Jul 04, 2014, 16:30 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

The Chougle siblings had passed away under mysterious circumstances within 44 hours of each other; investigations later revealed that their deaths were caused by pesticide poisoning

On this day exactly two years ago, two young siblings from Versova, both in their twenties, died inexplicable deaths in quick succession.

Also read: What killed Versova siblings within 24 hrs?

Rehab-Rameez Chougle
Rehab-Rameez Chougle

Their residence had just been visited by a pest controller. To this day, no one has a clear or comprehensive idea of the sequence of events that led to the tragic deaths of Rehab and Rameez Chougle. Forensics experts vested with the task have given up, saying that the utter lack of cooperation from the police has made it impossible for them to unearth the truth.

Also read: Versova siblings were poisoned

In the mean time, the police claim that they have completed their probe and filed their charge sheet at the Sessions Court, on June 5, 2014. What they fail to mention, however, is that they never bothered to respond to a series of queries raised by a high level expert committee of doctors, formed under the chairmanship of Police Surgeon S M Patil, to ascertain the cause behind the mysterious deaths.

Patil was assisted by forensics experts Dr Shailesh Mohite and Dr Gajanan Chavan, and toxicology expert Suhas Bhakre. On the basis of the committee’s instructions, Rameez Chougle’s body was exhumed almost two months after his burial. Traces of Aluminum Phosphide were found from his mortal remains.

Also read: Your pest control guy could kill you

Speaking to mid-day, Dr Shailesh Mohite said that apart from suggesting the exhumation of the sibling bodies, the committee had even asked some specific questions related to the case, answers to which the police have not submitted till today, even after two reminders were sent to them in October 2012 and March 2013. In February 2014, the police took away all the original papers.

“In my career of 24 years, I have never encountered a situation in which the police have not furnished information or records that forensic experts have asked for in a medico legal case. Since the police did not furnish the required details, the committee could not conclude the exact reason or circumstances that led to the mysterious death of the siblings,” said Dr Mohite.

Police Surgeon Dr S M Patil, who chaired the committee, echoed similar views, saying: “It was the police who asked me to form a committee of forensic experts to ascertain the truth. But when it was formed, the police seemed uninterested in carrying out a sincere probe, and did not even bother to respond to our numerous letters, asking for information. Finally, the police asked us to return all the original papers, which were handed over to them on February 17, 2014.”

Meanwhile, even after two years since the incident, the police have failed to trace the absconding accused Salim, who, according to the police, was aide to the pest control contractor Rukhsar Almelkar, and had allegedly visited the Chougle resident to administer pest controlling drugs, hours before Rameez passed away.

Arundhati Rane, Senior Inspector at Versova police station, said, “We have submitted a chargesheet against Rukhsar Almelkar and Hitendra Shah, who had supplied the pesticide.”

The committee’s unanswered questions
What are the medical qualifications and expertise of the doctors who treated Rehab at both Criti Care and Kokilaben Ambani hospitals? Clinical treatment queries, such as who collected the stomach wash of Rehab and when, how it was preserved and who was the custodian of the same until the wash was handed over to the police.

The postmortem requisition form filled in at Kokilaben did not mention the line of treatment for ‘suspected poisoning’ in the remarks column. Why didn’t the doctor mention the same and if he was actually the treating doctor? How did the homeopath Dr Aslam Momin 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. A homeopath, Dr Mehta, was called by the siblings’ mother Farzana after Rameez’s death on July 4, around 12.30 am.

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