Almost a month after an NRI woman died at her native village, Khalyan, in Kapurthala district, her family members have accused her husband of murdering her for insurance money of $2.5 million (Rs 12.5 crore).
The family members said the victim, Sita Rani (37), was married to Vijay Swan (41) of Chabbewal village in Hoshiarpur district in 2001; after marriage, she went to the US. She was poisoned during the couple's visit to Khalyan village on March 21, they alleged.
The police initially confiscated Swan's passport, but later returned it, allegedly without conducting an investigation. As per the police report, Rani died of a heart attack, even as the postmortem report is awaited.
Speaking to HT on the phone from California, Rani's sister Ranjit Kaur alleged that it was a case of murder, but the police were not taking appropriate action. "Swan had been harassing my sister for the past 11 years. He was the nominee for her insurance policies," she said.
Ranjit said Swan used to stay in California, while Rani was residing in New York with her three children. She said several police complaints were registered against Swan in the US on the charge of harassing her sister.
Ranjit said it was not possible that a woman who was getting government disability grant from the US government could afford three insurance policies worth $2.5 million in a span of 13 months, and that too when the couple had strained relations.
"We request the police to conduct a thorough inquiry and register a murder case. We also request the insurance companies not to release the amount until the probe is completed," she said.
The victim's mother, Chanan Kaur, said the couple returned to India on February 5 and were staying at her house in Khalyan village. "On March 21, my daughter was rushed to a private hospital at Phagwara, where she was declared brought dead. She was poisoned for the insurance money by her husband," she alleged, adding that they had already lodged a written complaint with the Phagwara police.
Senior Akali leader Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, who has taken up the case, said, "Without conducting an inquiry, the police returned the husband's passport on the recommendation of a former additional director general of police (ADGP) of Punjab. The victim's family should get justice and a case of murder should be registered against the accused."
When contacted, deputy superintendent of police (DSP), Phagwara, Jagan Nath said the police had registered a case of 'natural death' under Section 174 of the CrPC on the basis of the family members' statements.
"Once we get the postmortem report, we will take action accordingly. We have summoned Swan to our police station and will confiscate his passport again," he said.