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Syosset family pressures Nepal in woman's death

Kuldip, mom, and Chander Kochhar, dad, parents of

Kuldip, mom, and Chander Kochhar, dad, parents of Bhoomika, a Syosset woman who died in Nepal, are seeking answers in the death of their daughter. (July 22, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Syosset family on Monday called on the government of Nepal to cooperate in a full and impartial investigation into the June 15 death of their daughter, who was living with her husband and his family in Nepal.

Rep. Steve Israel, (D-Huntington) appeared with the family at a news conference at their home and vowed to try to stop financial aid to Nepal if it does not cooperate.

"We must make sure that her family is provided with both closure and justice," Israel said. The family lives in his district.

"We are devastated by the death of our daughter and sister Bhoomika. . . . We seek justice and want to know what led to Bhoomika's death," said her sister, Priyanka Puri, reading from a family statement at their home.

Bhoomika Kochhar, 25, had moved with her family from India to Syosset when she was 3 and later became an American citizen. She attended public schools in Syosset and went on to Boston University, from which both she and her husband, Akaash Jatia, graduated.

They were married in Nepal in January 2011, and, as is customary for families of Indian origin, she moved in with her husband and his family, in Nepal.

She was found dead in her room on June 15.

Messages left Monday at the Nepal Embassy in Washington, D.C., were not returned.

Israel said he wrote to the embassy two weeks ago and after getting no response reached the Nepalese ambassador to the United States by telephone and was promised a follow-up call from his staff. Israel said he has not received the response.

Israel said he was told that an investigation into the death would have to begin with a formal request in Nepal, but he asked if it could be done at the Nepal Embassy instead. The answer to that also awaits the follow-up call, he said.

In her statement, Puri said, "The Jatia family has stated that Bhoomika took her own life. My family is struggling to believe this."

The Jatia family could not be reached Monday.

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