The CBI, which filed a murder case Friday into the mysterious death of medical student Namrata Damor in connection with the Vyapam scam, will come across leads the Madhya Pradesh police had noted but did not pursue. Even the Special Task Force (STF) did not include her death in the list of “unnatural deaths”, related to the admission tests scandal, in its submission to the High Court
At the time of her death in January 2012, Damor was a 19-year-old MBBS student of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College in Indore. In 2014, her name figured among the students whose pre-medical test (PMT) results were cancelled by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) as these were found to have been rigged.
Over the last three years, police and STF have claimed Damor’s death was an accident or suicide. But in Indore and Jhabua, her relatives and acquaintances say it was murder.
Some claim she was close to Vyapam scam kingpin Jagdish Sagar and hence a witness to the goings on, that this was why she was “eliminated”.
Her family alleges that youths linked to the Vyapam ring were behind her killing yet reject the suggestion that she died because she herself was linked to the goings on.
Her phone call details confirmed she repeatedly spoke to three youths she knew —- Vishal Verma, Yash Deshwal, Dev Sisodia —- in the last few days before her death. They were believed to be with her on the day she died. They were arrested, their statements recorded but later set free. Verma also figured in the list of alleged beneficiaries of the PMT. He is now in jail in a Vyapam-related case.
Three questions surround her death: Why was she going to Jabalpur? What was her link to the Vyapam case? And was her death a murder?
Damor was found dead on the railway tracks in Ujjain on January 8, 2012. Police investigations revealed she was going to Jabalpur and a youth named Alekh had given her a train ticket, claiming he had been asked by one of the three youths.
Her body could not be identified and the preliminary inquiry and postmortem took place without her identity known to the police or the doctors. A few days after the postmortem, the Ujjain police issued advertisements in local newspapers with photographs, describing her appearance and belongings. “An unidentified woman, age around 20-25, wore red salwar suit, golden chain. Whosoever has any information about this woman, please contact Kaytha police station.”
The postmortem, conducted by a team of three doctors including Anita Joshi, concluded it was a case of homicide, death caused due to “violent asphyxiation” or “smothering”. Doctors had also taken vaginal slides and handed them to police.
The FIR filed at Kaytha police station of Ujjain on January 30, 2012 mentioned only one charge — IPC Section 302 or murder.
The FIR upheld the postmortem findings and noted that the “cause of death was violent asphyxiation” and the mode was “smothering”. The police also took semen samples of the three youths Damor knew.
Her hostel mate, Shraddha Keval Ramani, was with her on the day she died. Damor’s mobile phone was recovered from Ramani around two months after her death. After completing Class XII from Jhabua, Damor had taken admission in an Indore college. She was preparing for the medical entrance examination and Ramani was her hostel mate.
Her call details confirmed several phone calls between her and the youths in the last week before her death. The investigating officer had then said that “on the basis of call details, four youths have been made suspect”.
In his statement to police on February 4, 2012, Verma said he befriended Damor in August 2010 in Indore. “We went to movies and hotels together,” he told police.
“She told me about her boyfriend Dev alias Dileep. I am (considering) a break-up with him as he does not give me time. In February-March, she told me that she had married in a temple, but she had not broken up with him. Dev visited (her), he also provided financial support. They also went out. In May-June 2011, Dev got engaged to another girl. Namrata said that Dev had ditched her and used her,” Verma told police.
He said he often told Namrata that “he (Dev) was using her but she said that you are jealous of him.” According to Verma, Dev asked her to stay away from him. “Dev told Namrata that I (Verma) was not a good boy. When I have already married you, why do you speak to Vishal?”
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Damor’s father Mehtab Singh hinted at the rivalry between the youths over Namrata. “My daughter was killed… jalanbaazi hoti hai chhoti jagahon ke ladkon mein (boys in small towns are jealous of each other).”
“The police had arrested these youths. Why did they let them go free,” he asked.
At a press conference earlier this month, Ujjain SP Manohar Verma had maintained that the case was closed only after a proper investigation.
But the father questioned the manner in which the case was closed and the youths were allowed to walk. “It is a clear case of murder. They were arrested but were set free because of political pressure,” Mehtab Singh alleged.
Dr B B Purohit, who headed the three-member team that conducted the postmortem, also countered the police version.
“We were told that the body was found on the railway tracks. But when we examined the body, the kinds of nail marks we found on her lips and face, they were abrasions. We did find some external marks as if the body was dragged along. But these were formed after death, possibly caused when the body was transported, or taken or dragged from one place to the other. The abrasions on her face and nose were ante-mortem, caused during the application of force or resistance,” he said.
He pointed out out that had she jumped off the train to commit suicide, there would have been some fatal body injuries. “There was no internal injury, no damage to any organ, no injury on ribs, no skull fracture, no other body injury.”
“It was neither accidental, nor suicidal. It was homicidal. We confirmed this on the day we conducted the postmortem,” Purohit said.
“A lady doctor was with us. We took her vaginal slides and handed them over to the police,” he said.
But the findings of the postmortem team were later disowned by Dr D S Badkur, Director of Bhopal-based Medico Legal Institute, and it was called a case of suicide.
Vyapam scam whistleblower Dr Anand Rai alleged Damor was lured with the offer of a medical college seat. He maintained she was killed.
Damor’s family learnt of her death 20 days later — on January 28.
When Mehtab Singh and his family reached Ujjain, she had already been buried. On his insistence, the body was exhumed. He carried the body to his native Peepal Khuta village in Jhabua and cremated it there. “Apni bachhi ko god mein uthakar laya (I carried my daughter home),” he said. “Probably the CBI can get us justice.”