L.I. Congressman Threatens To Withhold Aid To Nepal Over Syosset Native’s Death

Nepal Govt. Ruled Death A Suicide; Family Suspects Foul Play

SYOSSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The untimely death of a Long Island newlywed in Nepal has a U.S. congressman seeking answers.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) announced Monday he’ll attempt to hold back $27 million in federal aid to Nepal in an effort to force the government there to cooperate in a full investigation into the death of a Syosset native.

Bhoomika Kochhar Jatia, 25, grew up in Syosset and attended Boston University, but had been living with her husband, Akaash Jatia, and his family in Nepal since 2011.

Her family said they suspect foul play in Bhoomika’s June 15 death, but authorities in Nepal have labeled it a suicide.

“You shouldn’t be able to get U.S. citizens’ money if you can’t ensure U.S. citizens’ justice,” Rep. Israel said. “I will call for a hold or a suspension of all or part of that $27 million until the U.S. Embassy can certify that there was an investigation, that it was full, fair and honest.”

As WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported, family members allege Bhoomika was being abused by her husband at the time of her death.

Bhoomika’s sister said shortly after moving to Nepal, Bhoomika realized her mistake.

Bhoomika Kochhar's sister and mother at a press conference with Rep. Steve Israel, July 22, 2013. (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Bhoomika Kochhar’s sister and mother at a press conference with Rep. Steve Israel, July 22, 2013. (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

“She told us she was unhappy and, most recently, was making plans to come home and pursue her Master’s degree in public health,” Priyanka Puri said. “Since her death, we have learned that she was regularly and persistently yelled at, locked in rooms, denied food.”

“Whatever the truth is, the family is willing to accept it. But at this point, we still have a lot of questions,” family attorney Sean Haran said. “There’s a cultural problem in India and in Nepal of women being mistreated.”

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