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Dr. Asha Goel

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Arrests made in murder of Orangeville doctor


More than two years after Orangeville doctor Asha Goel was murdered while visiting her brother in Mumbai, India, police have arrested three men in connection with her death.


Goel, who was chief of obstetrics and gynaecology at Headwaters Health Centre, was found dead in an apartment in Mumbai on Aug. 23, 2003 -- only a few hours before she was to return to Canada.


"This awful crime has devastated us," says husband Dr. S. K. Goel, a surgeon at Headwaters. "We are relieved that the authorities have found some of the people responsible for my wife's death, but we believe there are likely more arrests to be made.


"Asha is deeply missed by the community here," he says. "She was a very fine doctor, and always took the time to care for her patients, friends and colleagues. They have collected thousands of signatures to help us."


Earlier this month, the Mumbai police announced the arrests of three men who had connections to the family -- Narendra Goel, son-in-law of Suresh Agrawal, the brother Goel was visiting in India; M. Shinde, an employee of Agrawal; and Pawankumar Goenka, an employee of Subhash Agrawal of Ottawa, one of Goel's two other brothers.


The Times of India reported the motivation for the crime is an apparent property dispute among Goel's siblings.


According to reports in the Indian media, all the people arrested so far had been under suspicion from the earliest days of the case, but the arrests were delayed due to a lack of physical evidence.


The Indian media has also reported the handling of the case has "raised eyebrows" in police circles there. The case was transferred in January 2004 to the elite Crime Branch detectives of the Mumbai Police.


"My mother was an innocent woman, a doctor whose life was devoted to helping other people," says son Sanjay Goel. "It is unthinkable that anyone would want to harm her, much less as a large conspiracy as it now appears was involved. There are still many unanswered questions."


The Goel family has been pressuring authorities in India and in Canada to resolve the case -- and last year began a petition, which now has more than 11,000 signatures, requesting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assistance. Sanjay Goel says the support of the federal government is important to the outcome of the investigation and punishment of those responsible.


"Future progress in this case may depend on the Canadian government," says Sanjay Goel. "Although we are grateful for the assistance of the Canadian High Commission staff in Mumbai, we believe that the Canadian government must now take an active role in the investigation to ensure that all avenues are pursued and the guilty brought to justice."