Actor Jiah Khan’s mother Rabia has conducted a sting operation on eight crucial witnesses whose statements the police used to claim her daughter had committed suicide and used the transcripts to file a fresh petition at the Bombay High Court demanding the case be transferred to a Special Investigation Team “keeping in view the possibility that Jiah was murdered.”
The eight people whose conversations Rabia has recorded include actor Anju Mahendroo, who was the first to arrive on the scene, Dr Ramesh Aggarwal, who was the first doctor to reach Jiah’s home, Dr Rahul Datta, who told the police Jiah had suicidal tendencies, the building watchman, and two florists from whose shop a bouquet was sent to Jiah the night she was found dead.
While these 8 had given statements corroborating police theory that Jiah had killed herself, the transcripts submitted to the court shows them going back on their statements. The petition, filed on Saturday, seeks a stay on proceedings against the only accused in the case - Jiah’s ex-boyfriend Sooraj Pancholi - as well as addition of charges of rape and forceful abortion.
Advocate Dinesh Tiwari said the recorded conversations of the witnesses demolish cops’ claim and strengthen Rabia’s contention that Jiah may have been murdered. Jiah was found hanging in her Juhu flat late on June 3, 2013. An FIR was registered against Sooraj on charges of abetment. The HC later granted him bail. “I always knew my daughter was not depressed and she could not have committed suicide, but people kept saying things,” said Rabia.
"I wanted to find out what is it that these people know but I don’t. I did not expect the police authorities to help me. Therefore, I did this (sting) so that people can know the truth." The key question that emerges from the petition revolves around a certain Deva, Sooraj Pancholi’s man Friday. Recorded conversations of the two florists - owner and employee of the shop from where a bouquet was sent to Jiah by Sooraj raise questions on Deva’s role.
According to Deva’s statement to the police, he had visited the florist twice - once to buy the bouquet and then to get an “All The Best” card. According to him he went to deliver the bouquet to Jiah, but when he did not find her, came back to the florist to get the card. The florists, in their conversations with Rabia, say Deva had come to their shop only once.
He is, however, seen entering the building twice in a span of 6 minutes in the CCTV footage, something which finds support in the watchman’s recorded conversation. “It is around these two visits that some serious foul play was done so as to do preparation for eliminating the deceased,” says the petition. Another of Rabia’s contentions back then was that the window of the room in which Jiah’s body was found was open despite the airconditioner being on. In the charge sheet, Mahendroo and family friend Moin Haider Baig, who were the first people to reach the spot, had claimed Baig opened the window to smoke.
In the transcripts submitted with petition, Mahendroo has said the window was already open when they arrived. Mahendroo also refuted another claim made by Baig - that Rabia was constantly mumbling that her daughter was depressed. Mahendroo now seconds Rabia’s contention that she was saying a prayer.
Baig had also said the dupatta Jiah was found hanging from had 3 knot, accounting for an injury mark under her chin. Mahendroo now says there was only one knot in the dupatta and that a cop had specifically asked her a question about the injury mark under the chin. In the conversation, she also says there was no froth coming from Jiah’s mouth and her eyes and mouth were shut, which refutes Baig’s and Dr Aggarwal’s statements. While Baig had said that he saw froth coming out of Jiah’s mouth, Dr Aggarwal’s statement said Jiah’s eyes were open - indicative of death due to hanging. In his conversation with Rabia, Dr Aggarwal says he never told the police anything like that. He says when he had examined Jiah’s eyes using a torch, they were “dilated and fixed.”
Another conversation is of Dr Rahul Datta, who in his police statement had said Jiah had suicidal tendencies. Now, he says he only met Jiah once and did not get the impression that she was suicidal.
Following are the other major points in Rabia’s petition:
1.Rabia has complained to the Mumbai police commissioner about a threat received on February 25 asking her to withdraw proceedings, by a man who visited her house.
2. No call data record of Aditya Panscholi or Sooraj attached to the charge sheet to authenticate the statements given by them or to show their whereabouts and the people they were talking to around the incident. No verification of Aditya and Sooraj’s stands from independent witnesses.
3. Jiah’s photographs taken at her home and hospitals not part of charge sheet.
4. While Jiah was found dead wearing a night suit, she is seen on CCTV entering the house in atrack suit. This track suit is still missing.
5. No panchnama indicating seizure of Sooraj’s Blackberry in the charge sheet - indicating that they may not have seized it at all. Also no attempt to recover deleted BBM messages to Jiah from Sooraj’s phone on the day of incident.
6. The police report admits there was a telephonic conversation between Aditya Panscholi and the investigating officer Kalpana Gadekar. This despite the fact that a reply received under RTI by Rabia says that Gadekar was not on duty on the day of incident.