Controversial death

Judge Loya’s autopsy document was manipulated by doctor related to a minister, claims Caravan report

Records show that Dr NK Tumram conducted the post-mortem but hospital employees said it was actually led by Dr Makarand Vyawahare, the publication reported.

The post-mortem examination of former Central Bureau of Investigation Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya at Nagpur’s Government Medical College was “directed” by a doctor who has until now managed to keep his name out of all medical and court documents related to the case, a report in The Caravan has alleged.

At the time of his death on December 1, 2014, Judge Loya was handling the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case, in which Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah was an accused.

Doubts about whether Loya died from natural causes were raised after The Caravan published a report in November 2017. A Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanvilkar and DY Chandrachud is now hearing petitions demanding an independent investigation into Loya’s death. The Maharashtra government, however, maintains that the media reports questioning the circumstances of Judge Loya’s death were “blatantly incorrect and imaginary”.

However, a new investigation by The Caravan magazine published on Monday alleged that while official records showed Loya’s post-mortem was conducted by Dr NK Tumram, who was a lecturer in the forensic medicine department of the Government Medical College at the time, the operation was led by a Dr Makarand Vyawahare, then a professor in the department. Vyawahare was later investigated by the institution for manipulating several other post-mortems, the report claimed.

Vyawahare is the brother-in-law of Sudhir Mungantiwar – finance minister in the BJP government in Maharashtra. He is also a member of the powerful Maharashtra Medical Council and is currently the head of the forensic department at another institution in Nagpur.

The magazine’s report is based on the testimonies of 14 current and former employees of the hospital, including some people who had direct knowledge of Loya’s autopsy. All their statements seem to point to Vyawahare’s role in dictating what should be included in Loya’s post-mortem report.

One employee claimed there was an injury “on the back, towards the right side” of Loya’s head. “The injury was of the kind that is there when a stone hits and the skin tears,” the employee told the magazine, and added that the wound was deep enough for blood to have gushed out of it.

The employee said when Tumram tried to point something out to Vyawahare during the post-mortem, the senior doctor allegedly said, “Write only as much as I am telling you.” Vyawahare allegedly told Tumram after the autopsy was done to “write the findings of the post-mortem report in front of me”.

The final report did not mention the head injury, and instead said the probable cause of Loya’s death was “coronary artery insufficiency”. Under a subheading asking for details of wounds and injuries on the body, the report said, “No evidence of any bodily injuries”, and under another point asking for specific details of the condition of the head, the entry read: “No injuries”.

The employees’ claims seem to be consistent with an earlier opinion by forensic expert RK Sharma published in The Caravan in February that ruled out a heart attack and said there were signs of trauma or even poisoning. In March, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation filed an application in the Supreme Court citing this opinion, and said the Maharashtra government “appears to have withheld” from the court certain documents that could “demolish” the official version that Judge BH Loya died of a heart attack.

According to The Caravan report, 10 of the 14 employees it spoke to said they were certain that Vyawahare was interfering with post-mortem reports. Around a year after Loya’s autopsy, towards the end of 2015, Vyawahare was transferred out of the college following protests by hundreds of medical students and resident doctors, after a post graduate student attempted suicide and blamed him, and a woman student filed a sexual harassment complaint against him.

When The Caravan asked Vyawahare to respond to the claims of the employees it spoke to, he simply said, “I didn’t do the post-mortem only.”

In a previous report published on March 29, The Caravan spoke to 17 current and former employees of Ravi Bhawan, the government-run VIP guest house where Loya was said to have stayed in in Nagpur before his death. All of them told the magazine that they had no information about any guest falling ill and being taken to a hospital early in the morning – claims that contradict the statements made by the four judges who said they were with Loya in the hours before he died.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.