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Sheetal Amte case: Probe to see if death was by suicide or accident

Forensic experts and doctors who conducted the post mortem were still discussing this “threadbare”, a source told The Indian Express.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur | Updated: December 3, 2020 8:18:30 am
Baba Amte, Baba Amte birth anniversary, Baba Amte Anandwan, Sadhanatai Amte, Narmada Bachao Andolan,Knit India mission, Baba Amte leprosy, indian expressPolice are probing if Sheetal Amte died by suicide. (Twitter/@AmteSheetal)

Forensic experts are trying to ascertain if Sheetal Amte-Karajgi, the granddaughter of late social activist Baba Amte, died by suicide or because of asphyxiation caused by choking.

Forensic experts and doctors who conducted the post mortem were still discussing this “threadbare”, a source told The Indian Express.

Sheetal, 39, a medical doctor, was found dead under mysterious circumstances on Monday at her residence in Anandwan, the leprosy asylum project built by her grandfather, at Warora in Chandrapur district. Sheetal was the CEO of the asylum project.

Chandrapur Superintendent of Police Arvind Salve did not respond to calls and messages on Wednesday. But a source privy to the details told The Indian Express, “Sheetal had injected herself with some medicine that puts one into a deep sleep and also substantially reduces muscular control. When she fell asleep, she apparently had a bout of vomit that also surged into her respiratory tract and choked it. So, it is a matter of investigation whether the death was caused by the medicine she injected herself with or due to asphyxiation.”

The source, however, didn’t divulge which medicine was injected by her or the quantity, and if that by itself could have caused death.

“It’s a high-profile case… nothing can be left to doubt. So, it’s taking time,” said an official, adding, “Ihe investigation, however, is being carried out with the suicide attempt as the focal point.”

Deputy Superintendent of Police Nilesh Pande had told The Indian Express on Tuesday, “It may not even be a suicide.”

Pande said on Wednesday, “She had breakfast at 9.30 am and entered her room in the residence…and bolted it from inside. Her husband Gautam Karajgi was away in the office when Sheetal was in her room. He returned around 12.30 pm, and, after not getting a response from her, broke open the door to find her lying immobile on the bed”.

Sheetal’s in-laws Shirish and Suhasini Karajgi, who had come to stay with them, had gone to get Covid-19 tests done, while her six-year old son Sharvil was playing in the courtyard.

On Wednesday, police also recorded statements of the Karajgis. “We will send her laptop and other electronic gadgets to Mumbai on Thursday for a forensic check,” Pande said.

While the police have registered a case of accidental death, they have also recovered a syringe and some medicines from her room. They also seized some electronic gadgets, including a laptop, a tablet and two mobile phones.

The Amte family has been caught in a prolonged dispute between Sheetal and elder brother Kaustubh over control of Amtes’ Anandwan and Sombath projects. Sheetal had staunchly opposed a move to reinstate Kaustubh as a member of the Maharogi Seva Samiti Trust, which runs the project. She had alleged that he had committed several irregularities while serving in the Trust. Kaustubh had subsequently resigned from the Trust.

During a stormy meeting of the Trust on October 29, her father Vikas and uncle Prakash Amte had tried to reason with her over taking Kaustubh back in the Trust, but Sheetal had vehemently opposed the proposal. She had even put up a Facebook video where she had reportedly leveled serious allegations about Kaustubh, her uncle Prakash, cousin Aniket and a few others. She had, however, removed the post within two hours.

Peeved by her act, her father Vikas and mother Bharati had left for Hemalkasa in Gadchiroli, where Prakash Amte and his wife Mandakini run a project for tribal welfare, called Lok Biradari Prakalp.

The feuding family members had finally reached an agreement, with Sheetal and Gautam Karajgi accepting the proposal to take Kaustubh back. But within a couple of days, Sheetal was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

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