Sheena Bora case: Did mother's demise drive Indrani to attempt suicide?

Oct 03, 2015, 09:10 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Prime accused in Sheena Bora murder case, Indrani Mukerjea, rushed to JJ Hospital, after allegedly overdosing on anti-depressants, said to be critical, questions raised over security at Byculla women's jail

In yet another twist in the sensational Sheena Bora murder case, prime accused Indrani Mukerjea had to be rushed to the hospital yesterday after she was found unconscious from drug overdose in the Byculla women's jail dormitory.

Also read: Sheena Bora murder case - Mother of prime accused Indrani Mukerjea passes away

Suspected to be a suicide attempt, the incident took place on Friday morning, a day after Indrani's mother, Durga Rani Bora passed away in Guwahati. Dr T P Lahane, dean of Grant Medical College and JJ Hospital, confirmed to mid-day, "She was brought to the hospital around 2 pm, after she had consumed some pills."

Indrani Mukerjea

Indrani's condition was brought to the notice of the prison superintendent by a guard, and the jail doctor was summoned and doctors were requested to visit the jail.

Also Read: Indrani Mukerjea responds to treatment: J.J Hospital

"When the doctors visited the prison, they found Indrani lying unconscious. Her pupils were constricted but her blood pressure and pulse were normal, indicating that it was a case of drug overdose. There were indications that it was a suicide attempt," said an official from the prison, adding that the overdose diagnosis had also been noted in the prison records.

According to sources, the doctors immediately issued a requisition note to move her to JJ Hospital, stating that it was an emergency.

"We have admitted her in the Critical Care Unit; she is unconscious and has slight respiratory depression, but her other parameters are normal and we are monitoring her condition. We will be sending the stomach wash and urine samples to the Forensic Science Laboratory to ascertain the nature of the pill she had consumed," said Dr Lahane.

According to prison sources, when Indrani was sent to judicial custody on September 7, she had been examined by the jail physician in the Out Patient Department (OPD) section the next day. Indrani had told the physician that she did not have any health issues and that she was fine.

However, since the last few days, Indrani had complained that she was depressed and was unable to sleep properly due to bad dreams. Sources said she also did not like the jail food and was not eating properly. She was taken to see the JJ Hospital's psychiatrist, who would visit the jail every day. The doctor prescribed her anti-depressant pills.

Bipin Kumar Singh, inspector general of prisons (West region) confirmed to mid-day that Indrani was undergoing treatment for depression at the jail and she was given anti-depressants under supervision.

Mother's death
It is believed that the news of her mother's demise on Thursday might have depressed her further, pushing her to take the extreme step. However, Singh told this paper, "We are yet to get the medical reports. Yes, she was given the news of her mother's death on Thursday. We suspect that after hearing the news, she might have gone into shock."

Singh refused to comment when he was further asked whether Indrani had overdosed, and how she may have got access to the stash of pills, which should have otherwise have been given under the supervision of jail staff.

Attempts made to contact Byculla jail superintendent C A Indurkar did not yield any result. However, a CBI officer told this paper, "The local police will have to carry out a probe as to how Indrani got access to the drugs and if there was any negligence on part of the jail staff."

Last night, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio, ordered an inquiry into the incident, which will be led by IG Singh. The inquiry will cover all angles, including how Indrani managed to get hold of the tablets, said officials.

Meanwhile, ward number 6 of the CCU on the first floor of JJ Hospital has been converted into a fortress, with armed policemen guarding the entrance. The hospital administration issued clear instructions that only CCU staff should be allowed in.

Also read: CBI takes over Sheena Bora case; separate team will probe police negligence

Doctors had conducted an MRI test on Friday evening to rule out any possibility of a stroke, or brain haemorrhage. The treating staff also carried out a gastric lavage (cleaning of the stomach) usually done in cases of poisoning, and had started administrating IV fluids.

Indrani, though unconscious, had started showing slight movement in her limbs and she also opened her eyes briefly. Doctors said her condition was 'stable but still critical'.

Indrani's lawyer, Gunjan Mangla said, "There was no application made by us to the court for any medicines to be given to her. We are trying to meet her as soon as possible."

According to prison sources, however, Indrani was being treated for depression since September 12. She had been prescribed two drugs — Olanzapine and Etizolam, to be taken once daily. The sources added that she may have stockpiled the pills after collecting them from the prison pharmacist every day.

Murder case

Indrani Mukerjea is currently in judicial custody as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) finishes its probe into the 2012 murder of her daughter, Sheena Bora. Indrani, her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and her former driver, Shyam Rai are the main accused in the high-profile case. The matter is due to come up before the Special CBI court at Esplanade Court on Monday.

A spokesperson for the CBI, Delhi, said, "The CBI team is already in Mumbai and they will look into all the aspects of the case. As she is in judicial custody, it is unclear whether the team will get access to meet her."

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