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Cops doubt pesticide poisoning theory

While there is no medical confirmation on what caused the deaths of the Chougle siblings earlier this week, the police have questioned the theory that a recently conducted pest control had fatally poisoned them.

mumbai Updated: Jul 08, 2012 01:35 IST
HT Correspondent

While there is no medical confirmation on what caused the deaths of the Chougle siblings earlier this week, the police have questioned the theory that a recently conducted pest control had fatally poisoned them.

It is alleged that Rehab, 26, and Rameez Chougle, 25, residents of Yari Road, Andheri, died due to exposure to aluminium phosphide, a fumigant, after pest control was carried out in their home.

Rameez, a homeopath doctor, died on the night of July 3, and no postmortem was conducted on his body. A doctor at Cooper Hospital who conducted the postmortem on Rehab, who died on July 6, did not send her viscera (stomach, parts of kidney, liver and spleen) for chemical analysis. Poison residue, if any, would have been found in these organs.

Rehab's postmortem report states that she died of cerebral pulmonary edema (accumulation of fluid in the lungs and brain) and hepatomegaly (enlarged liver).

"Neither the police's accidental death report, nor the parents' statement mentioned suspicion of pesticide poisoning. There was nothing unusual in her stomach," the doctor who conducted the postmortem told Hindustan Times, requesting anonymity.

The Versova police have filed an accidental report case. "We have not found anything that would lead us to believe that the pest control at their house had anything to do with their deaths. The rest of the family was at home. Why did nothing happen to them?" asked Sharad Borse, senior police inspector of Versova police station.

Borse added that since the family doctor certified that Rameez died of natural causes, no postmortem was conducted. "Rehab's postmortem report also did not mention anything about chemicals."

However, doctors who treated Rehab said that she "possibly" died of poisoning due to aluminium phosphide, which was allegedly used in the pest control. On Tuesday, Rehab was taken to Criticare Hospital, Andheri, after a few episodes of vomiting.

"She did not seem critical and was conscious. Her parents said that pest control had been carried out in their house. The pest control firm had informed them that they had used aluminium phosphide," said Dr Deepak Namjoshi, medical director, Criticare Hospital.

Rehab was later shifted to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Andheri. "She was brought with multiple organ dysfunction. We were given the history of pesticide poisoning, but we cannot ascertain the cause of her illness," said Dr Ram Narian, CEO of KDAH.

Assistant commissioner of police N Sherkhane said, "The family has not approached us yet. We are going to investigate the case thoroughly to ascertain what led to the mishap."