A day after two starving sisters were rescued from over six months of self-confinement at their apartment, the elder one on Wednesday died of cardiac arrest at a hospital in Noida even as a magisterial probe was ordered into circumstances leading to the tragedy.
In a shocking case of self-deprivation, Anuradha and her sister Sonali, both in their 40's and holding doctorate degrees, were found in a severely malnourished and dehydrated state by police and neighbours on Tuesday in their Sector 59 apartment.
"Anuradha's mouth was bleeding. She was shifted to the ICU but in spite of all efforts we were not able to resuscitate here. And, she breathed her last at 8:05 am," Dr Amit, chief medical officer of Kailash Hospital where the sisters were admitted, said.
The immediate cause of the death of Anuradha (43) was a cardiac arrest, the hospital said.
"Due to malnutrition there was a multi-organ failure. This led to the cardiac arrest. A post-mortem will be conducted," V V Joshi, hospital spokesperson, said.
"The condition of the younger sister Sonali (41) is stable but she is suffering from depression," he said.
The District Magistrate has ordered City Magistrate Sanjay Chauhan to look into the circumstances of their self-confinement and starvation.
"I have been asked to look into the unnatural death of Anuradha. I will conduct the inquiry to know the circumstances under which they had confined themselves and the possible reasons for it," Chauhan said.
Disturbed by the incident, the National Commission for Women also sought a report from Noida authorities and the police.
Superintendent of Police (Noida City) Anant Dev said police have not registered a case as of now as they feel that no offence has been made out under the IPC. He said the police acted promptly to rescue the women after it was informed about them.
"As soon as we came to know about it, we took action," he said.
Vipin Behl, the brother of the two women who was not living with them for the past some years, said he had gone to Bangalore and later shifted to Gurgaon where he is currently working.
Behl said he had transferred the parental property to the sisters as well as some fixed deposits.
"I had shifted to Bangalore and later came back to Gurgaon where I am working now. I had transferred the property in their names. I have also transferred some fixed deposits in their names," he said.
Behl said he will take care of his surviving sister and bear all expenses for her treatment.
Anuradha and Sonali had apparently become disturbed after their father and mother passed away some years back and their younger brother left them. In the interim period, their pet dog also died after which they got into a state of depression, police said.
Police had broken into the apartment after being informed by neighbours and an NGO about the women who had not come out of their home for the past several months.
A member of the Sector 59 Residents Welfare Association said, "The two sisters were upset after their parents died some years ago. They had differences with their younger brother who lives separately. Their pet dog, who they were very fond of, died about six months back after which they became even more upset."
Usha Thakur, a social activist who accompanied the police, said the house was stinking when its door was broken open.
"There was a very bad odour coming from the sisters' bodies. While the older one was half nude, the younger sister was wearing woollen clothes in this warm weather," she claimed.
Seeking a report from Noida administration, NCW acting chairperson Yasmeen Abrar said, "The Noida case has disturbed me a lot. We are seeking a report from the administration and police there. If we are not satisfied, we might constitute a team and visit the spot."
To a query about whether the area residents welfare association should be taken to task, Abrar said civil society has a key role to play to prevent such incidents. "They were confined for such a long time. I feel that civil society has a role. The society should monitor, be aware, come forward."