Kozhikode: A post-mortem examination is likely to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of Rifa Mehnu, a 20-year-old vlogger and album star.
The Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) Chelsa Cini has consented to a police request to exhume the body from the burial ground of Pavandoor Juma Masjid, after her family suspected foul play in her death.
Rifa was found hanging and dead at her residence in Dubai's Jafiliya early on March 1. Reportedly, Dubai authorities did not carry out a detailed examination of the body, but for a forensic inspection for external injuries.
Deputy Superintendent of Thamarassery Police T K Ashraff moved the application for exhuming the body after her family demanded a post-mortem examination here. With the RDO accepting the application, the autopsy would be conducted likely on Saturday.
Police have registered a case against Mehnaz, Riya's husband, based on allegations by her family that she had been subjected to mental and physical torture after marriage. A preliminary police probe had found substance in the allegations.
Rifa's family has been maintaining that she had been mentally strong and hence would never commit suicide. She had spoken to her relatives and son around 9 pm before her death, and she sounded normal.
CCTV footage showing Rifa returning home from a store, too, did not show anything abnormal. Her family discarded the version that she committed suicide after some sudden provocation that had happened on her returning home.
Mehnaz tried to mislead: Kin
Mehnaz's friend, who had been staying with the couple, reportedly hinted at some incidents to her brother. It was also alleged that Mehnaz tried to mislead her family and brother after her death.
He reportedly lied to Rifa's brother that a post-mortem examination was conducted in Dubai. Mehnaz also prevented the brother from lodging a complaint seeking a detailed probe into her untimely death.
Mehnaz reportedly told Rifa's brother that lodging a complaint would delay the release of the body for months, and they could not take it home soon. Based on his insistence, the relatives brought the body home without lodging a complaint in Dubai.
It was under these circumstances that the family approached the Kozhikode district police, requesting to bring out the truth.
Rifa's relatives alleged that Mehnaz used to physically assault her and she sustained injury on the leg in one such attack. It was also said that Rifa had complained to her family that Mehnaz would beat her up, if she did not smile while on camera.
Exhumation in the act of lawfully bringing out a buried dead human body for medico-legal purposes. Forensic experts said evidence could still be collected though the body was buried a month ago. The post-mortem examination would find the presence of possible poison or drugs in the body, and beneath the nails. Internal injuries, if any, too would be revealed.
Pinarayi serial killings
Several instances of exhumation have been reported in Kerala, and the two recent ones were from Pinarayi and Koodathai. In both cases, the bodies of victims of serial murders were exhumed.
In Pinarayi, 32-year-old Soumya had reportedly fatally poisoned her parents and daughter over a period of time. The nine-year-old child was the first to die, and it was considered to be a natural death. No forensic tests were conducted.
Local residents became suspicious after Soumya's parents too died under similar circumstances. The child's body was exhumed for a chemical examination, and officials found traces of rat poison also found in the bodies of the woman's parents.
Soumya later died by suicide in prison while undergoing trial.
In Koodathai cyanide killings, too, bodies were exhumed from the graves. Though presence of cynaide was found in Roy's body, further probe was not conducted since it was considered to be a suicide. Roy was the husband of Jolly Joseph, the accused in the case.
After Jolly was suspected to be behind a series of deaths in the family, the body of Sili, wife of the accused woman's second husband Shaju, was exhumed three years after the burial. Traces of cynaide was found in a chemical examination.
Authorities exhumed and examined the bodies of Shaju-Sili couple's daughter Alphine, Roy's parents Tom Thomas and Annamma Thomas, and a relative Manjadiyil Mathew. However, no suspicious evidence was found in the examination conducted at the Kozhikode Regional Chemical Laboratory.
Police have sent the remains of the dead to the Central Laboratory at Hyderabad. The results were yet to be received.
Exhuming Rifa's body would be painful for her parents. But they are willing to go to any extent to bring justice for their daughter.