Murder or mishap?
The haunting question over trainee air hostess Mousumi Choudhary’s death may soon find an answer with Jharkhand High Court on Monday directing the special CBI court in Jamshedpur to conclude trial in the three-year-old case.
A division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice Jaya Roy was hearing a PIL filed by Mousumi’s mother Tapasi Choudhary, who has been alleging that her daughter was sexually assaulted and killed, and did not die in an accident during training.
Mousumi (17) — a student of Air Hostess Academy in the steel city and undergoing hospitality training at The Sonnet — had sustained critical injuries at the hotel’s laundry section in the morning of May 9, 2009. She died on May 20.
After the incident, Bistupur police registered a case of unnatural death based on explanations offered by the hotel and academy authorities. It was said Mousumi’s scarf got entangled in a washing machine and she was accidentally strangulated.
Tapasi, however, insisted that her daughter — who had been complaining to her of sexual advances by Sonnet proprietor P. Ravi Parekh and academy director Veeraj Vig — was raped and murdered.
“How is it possible that her (Mousumi’s) scarf got entangled in a machine that was barely 3ft in height while my daughter is 5.3ft tall and her bow-tie scarf was tucked well into her shirt?” the mother had asked.
“Post-mortem confirmed death by strangulation, but is suspiciously silent on sexual assault or internal injury suffered by her,” she had said.
Tapasi had written a letter to then Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, who converted the letter into a public interest litigation.
On October 15, 2009, the high court directed the CBI to investigate the charges.
The probe concluded that the evidence did not prove charges of rape or murder against Parekh and Vig, as both were not present at the scene of the crime. But, on March 30, 2010, the high court called the CBI probe inadequate and ordered reinvestigation.
In April, Parekh went to Supreme Court to get a stay on a second CBI probe. But, the apex court upheld the high court order.
Increasing anguish of Mousumi’s family members, the CBI submitted its fresh probe report in July last year, concluding that her death was an accident.
A trial in the special CBI court started thereafter.