Indian police are investigating after a 24-year-old woman was allegedly burned alive on a funeral pyre, a day after she had been declared dead.
Rachna Sisodia died two days after being admitted to hospital in Noida, a town just outside Delhi, with fever, breathlessness and abdominal pains.
A death summary seen by the Times of India stated Sisodia had passed away following “cardiorespiratory arrest and acute respiratory distress syndrome.”
A day later on 26 February, the newlywed’s body was being burned on a funeral pyre under instructions from her husband Devesh Chaudhary.
The newspaper states police arrived at the ceremony and pulled Sisodia from the flames, amid allegations from her family that her husband had deliberately attempted to murder her by burning her alive.
The body had suffered 70% burns by the time it was wrenched from the pyre and a post-mortem found ash in the respiratory tract, suggesting she was still breathing when she was cremated.
A hospital official told the Hindustan Times: “This happens when someone is burnt alive. The particles go inside with the breath. If a person is dead, such particles cannot reach the lungs and windpipe. So the doctors concluded that the woman was burnt alive on the pyre.”
Huffington Post India cites a two-doctor panel which has since concluded she died of “shock caused by being burnt alive.” It adds the doctors who originally declared Sisodia’s death are standing by their diagnosis.
But further mystery abounds after the doctors who conducted the post-mortem admitted the body had been so badly burned they could not be certain it was Sisodia’s. Bone fragments have been sent off for DNA testing.
According to the Indian Express, Sisodia had been reported missing from her home in Bulandshahr in December. It is believed she left the family home to marry Chaudhary, who now claims he is being “framed” by her family.
The Times writes that Chaudhary has gone into hiding but has continued to communicate with the media and pleading his innocence. Sisodia’s family have accused him of raping and murdering her.
The newspaper adds case files are being passed back and forth between the district where the cremation took place and the village where the couple lived, with police arguing over which jurisdiction the main crime took place in.