THIS May, exactly a year after the death of actor Shikha Joshi, the Joshi family sat at Jantar Mantar to seek justice. Her father Khimanand Joshi refuses to accept that she killed herself. The police are yet to close the file as they await a forensic report.
Based on their “strong hunch” and “reason-backed suspicions”, the parents keep filing RTIs and letters to the Human Rights Commission to keep the probe alive.
Shikha is alleged to have slit her throat inside the bathroom of her friend Madhu Bharti’s house in May last year. She used a kitchen knife and the video of her dying declaration, recorded on a phone by Bharti, was used as the lone evidence to show the death as a suicide.
Shikha was in Mumbai to attend court proceedings against a Khar-based cosmetic surgeon after she had pressed molestation charges against him. Her parents said she had then decided to stay back at the home of her friend, Madhu Bharti, who had asked her to take some acting assignments.
“Today, there is a video on which people base their assumption that she killed herself. I have watched that video again and again and for me that itself is the basis of my first doubt,” said Shikha’s father.
In the two-minute clip, shot by Bharti at the time of her death on another friend’s i-phone, Joshi was repeatedly asked who was motivating her to take the fatal decision.
The owner of the phone, another friend of Madhu Bharti, was asked to share the phone’s password recently, said police. She had left for Gujarat and that aspect of the probe was left pending.
At the Versova police station, a police inspector said the phone was password protected and only recently unlocked for a forensic cleaning.
“There is also a laptop which we have picked up from the house. It belongs to Shikha and we will check all the text and image material to see if there are any leads,” said investigating officer D S Patil. The police station has, in the past one year, collated statements of the cosmetic surgeon, Joshi’s family and her friends, including Madhu Bharti.
During the initial probe, the cosmetic surgeon was questioned after Shikha took his name in the video. She had alleged she was molested by him and the case was still in progress.
“Our probe has not found any link between the cosmetic surgeon and her suicide. All circumstantial evidence was also probed as there was absolutely no link between them around the time of her death,” said Patil.
The police have taken the initial postmortem report as the main document, for now.
“We had asked for a second opinion and a panel of three forensic doctors from Cooper also confirmed the postmortem report which said that the death was due to shock from injuries. The injuries, the panel submitted, were suicidal in nature,” said Patil.
At the house in Delhi, Shikha’s parents are refusing to let the case go cold. Letters have been sent to Human Rights Commission which have now been forwarded to the police.
“They have asked for a complete report on the case. We can provide a full report only after the forensic report of the equipment arrives,” said Patil, referring to Shikha’s laptop and the phone on which the video was recorded.
“The leads are too strong to be ignored. Why will a person with a 8-cm wound on her throat open the bathroom door if her intention was to kill herself? Further, we have informed the cops about the three phone messages she sent us just a day before the death. She had been asked to go for a shoot and she was uncomfortable about the spot. There was something that happened there and she wasn’t willing to share it with us. We called her again and she said she was not in a position to speak. We find that very difficult now,” said Shikha’s father.
The family has now gone till the office of Home Minister Rajnath Singh and are looking to take the matter up with the commission again.
“It seems as if everyone has forgotten that a girl who went to Mumbai died. And it’s as if everyone wants to believe she killed herself. It’s not that simple. At least not for us.”