Almost seven years after MBA student Santosh Kumar Singh’s mysterious death and his father’s sustained effort to contest the police and the CBI’s conclusion that it was a suicide, a court in Panvel has ordered the arrest of Santosh’s three former roommates who were suspects in the case.
Santosh’s father Vijay Kumar Singh contested investigation reports by the Navi Mumbai police, the Maharashtra Criminal Investigation Department and the CBI and said that his son was murdered. The police and the CID had concluded that Santosh had committed suicide by jumping from the apartment he shared with Vikas Singh, Jitendra Kumar and Dheeraj Kumar, all from Patna.
The three accused, who work at private firms in Mumbai, Pune and Bihar, were roommates of 24-year-old Santosh in Kharghar when he died on July 15, 2011. Vikas, Jitendra and Dheeraj are in judicial custody after their bail pleas were rejected by the court on January 30. “I have tried my best to get justice for my son but I will keep fighting until the men are convicted,” said Vijay, who works for Life Insurance Corporation of India in Patna.
He recalled his shock when informed early on July 15, 2011, morning that Santosh committed suicide by jumping from a bathroom window of his fourth-floor apartment. Santosh was studying MBA from Bharti Vidyapeeth in Navi Mumbai. “I had spoken to him only a few hours before and he seemed to be in a good mood then,” Vijay said.
Kharghar police said the death was accidental, although, the post-mortem had mentioned that Santosh had 18 incisions on his body, which could have been caused by a knife or glass shards. Vijay alleged that neither investigating agency had taken into account an occipital skull fracture to his son, which doctors said would have been caused by impact from a heavy blunt object and not the result of a fall from a height.
“My son’s friends said they had been drinking the previous evening and that later at night, my son was so intoxicated that he could even go to the bathroom by himself. How could he then have climbed onto a four-foot-high window and jumped?” Singh asked.
After the police said Santosh had committed suicide, Vijay filed a writ petition in Bombay High Court. The court sought a CID investigation. The CID also agreed with the police’s conclusion of suicide. Following a second writ petition by Vijay in the high court in 2013, the court transferred the investigation to the CBI. The central agency recorded statements of the three accused, a watchman in the building who claimed to have found Santosh bleeding on the first floor, doctors who examined his body, apart from extensive examinations of the home as well as constructing a detailed psychological profile.
The CBI concluded that Santosh had committed suicide on the basis of the position in which his body was found. There was also lack of evidence against his flatmates. In a closure report it filed in a Panvel court in 2017, the CBI said Santosh used to “drink daily, spend time chit-chatting with friends, browsing the Internet on his laptop and he never cared about his studies or to attend college. Somehow, he managed to convince his parents by lying about his education/career.”
Among the reasons that the CBI noted for Santosh to commit suicide were that he was not good in academics, had poor attendance and disturbed sleep, was a habitual drinker, separated from his family and that he had informed his girlfriend that may jump through the window.
In a protest petition that Vijay filed in the Panvel court in response to the CBI’s closure report, he contended that the agency failed to prove how an intoxicated 6-ft-tall man weighing 80 kg had managed to climb up a 4-ft-high window without support.
Vijay also accused the CBI of trying to tamper with the crime scene. “It is clear that some persons are helping them to complete the crime scene. It means that without help it is not possible for anybody to climb and jump from the toilet window, the father said in his petition.
Last month’s order from the court to arrest the men brought Vijay little relief. “It has taken seven years just to prove that my son was murdered. Investigations from the police have not made any progress and it is only the courts which have advanced the case,” he said.