Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Sep 7:
The parents of the lady doctor, who fell to death from the terrace of the eight-storey apartment where she lived in Sahid Nagar in Odisha capital yesterday, have accused her in-laws of torturing her for dowry and abetting her suicide.
“They had been pressing her to get Rs 80 lakh as dowry so that her husband could set up a nursing home. When we expressed our inability to pay such a huge amount, he pressed us to sell off our house. They tortured her physically and mentally. They did not give her proper food either,” the mother of the deceased gynecologist Snehalata Mishra alleged here today.
Dr Swetapadma Mishra, a gynecologist in a private hospital in the city, had jumped off the terrace of Banalata Apartment in Sahid Nagar at about 1.30 pm yesterday.
“Her husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law were all party to her torture. My daughter was a simpleton and bore the torture silently only for the sake of her son. I want him (son-in-law) to get appropriate punishment for his crime and spend the rest of his life in jail. His doctor’s licence should also be cancelled,” a visibly agitated Snehalata said.
Dr Arijit Mohapatra, the husband of Dr. Swetapadma Mishra who is a paediatrician in the same hospital where his wife used to work, however, has vehemently denied the dowry torture allegation against him and his family. “It is completely baseless,” he said when asked about the allegation made by his mother-in-law.
“Swetapadma was suffering from mental illness and was being treated for it by Dr Satyabrata Dash of Apollo Hospital,” he said.
Dr Mohapatra said he was in a state of shock after his wife’s death, but pledged complete coöperation in the ongoing police investigation into the case. He also appealed to the media to respect the family’s privacy while reporting the case.
Dr Mohapatra’s parents echoed his version and said Swetapadma was in a state of depression for some time. “There was no dispute in the family. She must have committed suicide in a state of depression,” her father-in-law said.
Dr Satyabrata Dash of Apollo Hospital also corroborated Dr Mohapatra’s version and confirmed that Swetapadma was indeed under his treatment. “She was under my treatment since 2011. But in the last week or so, she had developed suicidal tendencies. Therefore, her in-laws family was keeping a close watch on her,” he said.
Swetapadma’s father BC Mishra, however, rubbished the ‘mental illness’ theory, saying; “If she was mentally ill, how come she was doing all domestic chores, including cooking, without any problem? She was also discharging his responsibilities as a doctor and even conducted surgeries.”
Meanwhile, the post-mortem and CT Scan on Swetapadma’s body was carried out at the Capital Hospital here today. Sources in the commissionerate police said the entire post-mortem process was videographed.
Bhubaneswar DCP Satyabrata Bhoi said the post-mortem report would reveal the exact reason behind Dr Swetapadma’s death. “The investigation is still wide open. We have finished the first round of interrogation of Dr Swetapadma’s in-laws. We have also talked to a few of her neighbours. Though prima facie, it appears to be a case of suicide, we are not ruling out any possibility at this stage,” the DCP said.
Bhoi, however, discounted the possibility that someone could have pushed Dr Swetapadma off the terrace. “The parapet on the terrace is almost waist-high. It is not possible for one person to push somebody from behind. It would need a minimum of 5-6 persons,” he said.
The DCP said CCTV footage of the time had been procured and was being examined, but refused to give any details. “At this stage, it would not be prudent to divulge details of what we have found from the CCTV footage,” he said.
Bhoi said documents related to Dr Mohapatra’s claim that his wife was undergoing treatment for schizophrenia would be procured from Apollo Hospital and would be studied.
Meanwhile, commissioner Dr RP Sharma visited the Banalata Aapartment where the deceased gynecologist used to live with her in-laws and conducted an on-the-spot examination for any possible clues to the mysterious death.
Dr Swetapadma’s slippers and spectacles had been recovered from the terrace of the apartment from where she is believed to have jumped to death yesterday.