Mystery shrouds Christian woman’s death; family suspects rape & murder

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Mystery shrouds Indian Christian woman's death: People protest in Delhi ahead of a court verdict on the gang rape of a medical student in December 2012. (File Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj)

Mystery shrouded the death of a Christian woman in the north Indian state of Punjab, three months ago. The family members of the deceased woman demanded exhumation and re-postmortem of her body. So that the mystery over her death could be unravelled. The family claimed that the woman was raped and murdered, and also accused the police of hush up the case.

The dead body of the 20-year-old Jyoti William was found in her rented accommodation, on August 16. She worked as a nursing assistant in a private hospital in Amritsar town.

According to UCA News, the police initially suspected that it was a case of suicide by injecting poison. However, later they have registered a case of negligence causing the death, against the house owner and two others.

The elder sister of the deceased woman, Venus William, claimed that her sister was raped and then injected with poison to kill her. Her sister “had no reason to commit suicide. It was a case of rape and murder,” she said.

Family planning to move High Court

Sources said that the family along with some Christian groups is planning to move Punjab High Court to exhume the body of the woman and to conduct a second post-mortem examination by experts.

“We believe a fresh post-mortem will establish our charge,” said Minakshi Singh, general secretary of Unity in Christ, a forum of Protestant churches based in New Delhi.

According to Venus, her sister’s body was on the bed. “Bloodstains were found on her leg. And one of her shoes was soaked with blood. There were injury marks on her left eye and neck, and swelling in other parts of the body.”

“Her private parts were not covered properly. That indicates she was raped and killed. Her right hand had some cotton as if someone kept it there to prove that she had committed suicide by injecting poison,” Venus said.

“If she had injected poison and killed herself how could there be so much blood and injuries. Why should she removed cloths from her private parts,” she asked.

Church fact-finding team meets family

A three-member church fact-finding team met the family members of the deceased woman. Singh, a team member, said “There were sufficient grounds to prove that the woman was raped and murdered.”

She said the preliminary autopsy report “has given enough indication that she had not committed suicide. But the police were not ready to acknowledge it,” Singh said.

Now a three-member special investigation team (SIT) is investigating the case, after complaints that police covered up the case.

Inspector Praveen Kumar, who was also part of the SIT, said that the team was waiting for the viscera report. “Till we get the viscera report, we cannot jump to any conclusions. A second postmortem could unravel the mystery of her death,” he said.

But he refused to divulge any details of the probe, saying it would breach its confidentiality.

Christians have also complained to the state minorities commission, to ensure justice for the dead woman’s family.

Punjab is one of the Indian states where Christians often face attacks and harassment. Several incidents of attacks on Christians have taken place in Punjab. Some Christian leaders said that the government was ‘not serious about checking these attacks’.

For instance, a Pentecostal church was attacked on October 23. A member of the church was shot dead and three others suffered injuries in the attack.

The attack came weeks after the victim had a verbal dual with a local leader over an attempt to disrupt a prayer meeting on alleged charges of religious conversion.

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