The Jharkhand police on Monday arrested the mother of Delhi-based journalist Nirupama Pathak, who died under mysterious circumstances at her family home on April 30.
The 23-year-old scribe’s mother, Sudha, was arrested on murder charges from Koderma district’s Jhumri Talaiya, 150 km from here. She has been sent to 14 days’ judicial custody.
Earlier, the police questioned Sudha and her husband Dharmesh after the post-mortem report suggested that Nirupma died due to asphyxia, a symptom caused by smothering.
Nirupama’s friend Priyabhanshu Ranjan, a journalist, said he last spoke to her on 29 April. “I tried calling her but her phone was unreachable. I called on the landline and a neighbour picked up and said that she got electrocuted while fixing a ceiling fan. Why would she be fixing a ceiling fan?”
Ranjan, who she had decided to marry, was from a different caste. He has alleged honour killing as Nirupama was going around with him much to the dislike of her family, who are upper caste Brahmins.
Nirupama’s body was found hanging from a ceiling fan, which might have been done after her death to mislead the investigation. The post-mortem report also said that Nirupama was three months’ pregnant.
Police said Nirupama was supposed to return to New Delhi on April 29, but cancelled the ticket after consulting Ranjan.
Dharmesh, branch manager of a bank in Gonda, and son, Shailendra, an inspector with the Mumbai IT department, were at their workplaces when the incident occurred.
Koderma police chief G. K. Kumar said, “We’ve arrested Nirupama’s mother for causing disappearance of evidence and criminal conspiracy on the basis of circumstantial evidence.” But he refused to confirm the death as an honour killing.
The National Commission for Women sought a report from the state, urging that the case be entrusted to a fast-track court.