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Nafisa was 'upset' over fiancÚ's divorce: police


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Model-turned-VJ Nafisa Joseph, who is suspected to have committed suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan, had an altercation with her fiancÚ over his divorce from his present wife, police said Friday.

Even as friends, relatives and fans woke up to the shocking news of her death Thursday in her Versova home, police said a clearer picture of the tragedy would emerge only after an autopsy.

"Nafisa Joseph locked her mother and friend Poonam in her bedroom, then asked her maid to wait outside the flat before taking the extreme step," a police official said.

Twenty-five-year-old Joseph's home was located on the third floor of Raj Kamal Apartments.

Recounted her maid Durga Bisai: "I was worried when 'didi' (madam) shut the door on me. I rang the doorbell. But it didn't ring. I even tried to open the door with a duplicate key, but it was locked."

Then Bisai, 33, called the watchman and a resident association member over the intercom.

"Joseph was found hanging from the ceiling fan when we reached her flat," said Arun Walunz, assistant commissioner of police (ACP).

"Our investigation is progressing. We are awaiting the autopsy report."

Police said Joseph seems to have hung herself using a dupatta.

Walunz said: "The relatives and the watchman of the building had to cut through the window where the air conditioner was fitted to enter the room."

Joseph was to get married to Mumbai-based businessman Gautam Khanduja on Aug 28, a source close to the family said. "But due to some problems, her engagement was apparently called off at the last minute."

"The two had been seeing each other for the past 15 months," the source added. "Gautam, who is already married, first met Nafisa at a nightclub."

Khanduja, who lives in Pali Hill, in suburban Bandra, deals in automobile parts. A police official said: "The two had an altercation over his divorce papers and that may have upset her."

Police say Joseph along with her mother met Khanduja at his Bandra house Wednesday evening.

"Her mother accompanied her back home to Versova and stayed overnight with her. Her friend Poonam came to visit them Thursday evening," a police official said.

The family hails from Bangalore. Her father arrived in Mumbai Thursday night, police said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Amitabh Gupta said the family had told police it was "a case of suicide".

Versova police have registered a case under Section 174 (accidental death) of the Criminal Procedure Code. However, Gupta said, police are exploring all angles. "It is too early to comment any further."

Joseph won the Miss India crown in 1997 at the age of 19. She worked as a model and was a VJ for a music channel. She was also involved with an animal rights project.


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