Police claim it was a case of suicide; post-mortem rules out rape

The death of a 25-year-old woman, found hanging at a hotel in Bihar, is beginning to unnerve the State police with the demand for justice growing louder by the day.

Alleging foul play, family and friends of Sneha Singh, a well-known former RJ from Jharkhand and development worker associated with the Bihar government’s ‘Jeevika — Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society’ project, punched holes in the police investigation.

On July 22 morning, the body of Sneha was found hanging in her hotel room in Munger district, where she was posted to work on the Bihar Innovation Forum — an initiative that rewards innovations in the rural sector.

The body was found in a semi-naked state from below suspended by a bedsheet from the ventilator. The post-mortem (PM) examination ruled out rape.

“It [The post-mortem] says there were no external injuries or signs of physical violence. It rules the death was due to asphyxia,” Munger Superintendent of Police Naveen Kumar Jha told The Hindu.

According to the police, a chunk of the evidence points to suicide. The family, however, has complained against the hotel management, saying that it was a case of murder. Earlier, the police had registered a case of unnatural death.

“The family believes it is a murder and facts are being hidden by the government agencies. The police jumped to conclusions after the PM [post-mortem] reports and completely ignored other angles of investigations,” a joint statement by the victim’s friends and colleagues said. They staged a candlelight march in Patna on Saturday demanding justice.

“Sneha was a bold, confident and extrovert person. She spoke out against what she thought was wrong. She used to be happy. There was no reason for her to commit suicide. And if she wanted to why would she undress herself? Why have the police not conducted a thorough videography of the room? They hurriedly sent the body for PM without waiting for the family to arrive. They are investigating and questioning the hotel staff only after pressure. Moreover, CCTVs were not working in the hotel,” one of Sneha’s friends, who did not wish to be named, told The Hindu.

“The police are investigating, but we are not satisfied,” her father V.P. Singh said.

Sneha had been staying at the hotel since June 7. Prior to this she was stationed in Gaya district. Her former roommate said she had never seen Sneha in a depressed state.

Caste angle

Sneha belonged to the forward Bhumihar caste. She was in a relationship with a man from the Kayasth caste (considered lower in caste hierarchy to Bhumihar). Her family initially opposed their marriage, but friends say her father was gradually coming round to accepting their relationship.

Investigators, however, said the family’s opposition could have probably affected Sneha. “The day she died there were around 60 missed calls from her father on her mobile. We have the call data records. She presumably had watched the movie Mohabbatein [in which a protagonist commits suicide when her father rejects her relationship]. That day she conveyed to her friend that the movie mirrored their situation,” Deputy Inspector-General of Police Anil Kishore Yadav told The Hindu.