Vyapam scam: Reopening Namrata Damor's death may be tip of iceberg

Three years after the police closed the file on one of the many mysterious deaths linked to the Vyapam scam and as the government plans to shift the probe to the investigation agency, the police is set to review the death of MBBS student Namrata Damor.

What is the case?

Damor, whose name figured in the Vyapam scam, was studying at the Government MGM Medical College in Indore and it was suspected that she took admission with the help of the accused in the Vyapam scam  in 2010.

 Vyapam scam: Reopening Namrata Damors death may be tip of iceberg

Image courtesy: News18

A student in the second year of college, she went missing after the college declared its results on 7 January, 2012. Her brother came to meet her when he couldn't get through to her on her mobile phone. When he could not find her, he filed a missing persons' complaint on 12 January, 2012, says this Dainik Bhaskar report.

Meanwhile the police had found an unidentified, mutilated body  along the railways tracks in Ujjain on the same day that she had gone missing. There were posters of her distributed but after no one claimed her body it was cremated after an autopsy.

Her brother saw one of the posters and identified her, after which her body was exhumed. The initial theory, as per the Dainik Bhaskar report, was that she had been scolded by her father over her friendship with a boy and committed suicide.

Why is the case being reopened?

Namrata's case has come back in focus after the sudden death of Aaj Tak journalist Akshay Singh in Jhabua district's Meghnagar town recently after he interviewed Namrata's father.

What did the police say today?

"We have ordered a review of the death of Namrata Damor. Sub Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP), Tarana, R K Sharma will reopen the case," Ujjain District's Superintendent of Police Manohar Singh Varma said.

However, earlier the police had registered a "murder" case in this regard and later termed the incident as an "accident" and closed the case, a police official said.

Why the controversy?

There was never any clarity on whether it was a case of murder or suicide. The police claim to have even recreated the crime scene after the initial inquiry and said that Damor had died due to falling off the train.

However, the post mortem report said that she had died because of "violent asphyxia as a result of smothering", with the findings suggesting homicide, an India Today report said.

A team of three doctors that conducted the autopsy had also claimed that there was semen on her clothes, according to this Times of India report. However, the report also points out that there were many inconsistencies in what was found.

Dr B.B. Purohit, who was part of the team that performed the autopsy told NDTV that there was not a "one per cent chance of a natural death."

"We three doctors conducted the post-mortem... we have over 25 years of experience. There were bruises on the nose and mouth... which indicated she was strangled. Also, the bruises on her body suggested she was dragged on the tracks after her death," he said.

However, the Madhya Pradesh Medico Legal Institute that handles forensic medicine had submitted a report saying that it was a case of suicide and rejected the others' opinion, this Telegraph report said.

Dr DS Badkur, who heads it, said that he had visited the site of the accident and differed with the opinion of the three other doctors. The report quoted unnamed sources as saying that it was his report that resulted in the case eventually being dismissed as a suicide.

The semen samples found on Damor's clothes didn't match any of the four suspects in the case: Dev Sisodiya, Yash Deshwala, Vishal Verma and Alek. Her mobile phone was recovered from another passenger Shradha Kesharwani, who was also travelling on the train but she had no clue about Damor.

The police had also claimed the girl was in a relationship with one of the suspects Vishal Verma, who had also benefited from the Vyapam scam in 2009 by using an impersonator. The police also claimed Verma had also allegedly helped Namrata for move from a Gwalior college to the MGM Medical College, but was unable to prove anything conclusively against him. The case was finally closed.

Damor's death is one of many mysterious deaths in a case that could be handed to the CBI if the Supreme Court decides to do so. Even the most recent deaths of journalist Akshay Singh and Jabalpur medical college dean Dr Arun Sharma was much like the other deaths of people like Damor, who may have been connected with the Vyapam scam.

As Firstpost's G Pramod Kumar pointed out, what makes the Vyapam deaths more mysterious is that there is no common cause of fatality - it comprises everything that makes deaths unnatural: suicide, poisoning, drowning, road accidents, murder and unexplained cardiac arrests.

"However, given the common thread of the scam that connects all the victims, it’s only fair to suspect planned murder that appeared as different forms of unnatural death. Most of the deaths are either 'suicides' or caused by  'road-accidents.'" as he noted.

Given the number of deaths connected with the scam so far, Damor's may not be the only case file that needs to be re-opened if the truth has to be arrived at in the sinister Vyapam scam.

Updated Date: Jul 09, 2015 11:48:28 IST