A young Indian American couple from Jersey City, New Jersey, were found dead April 26 in an apparent murder-suicide.
According to the Hudson County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s office, the Jersey City Police Department responded to a call early morning April 26 and went to the couple’s apartment. Renowned chef Garima Kothari, 35, owner of Nukkad Restaurant, was found unresponsive with apparent trauma to her upper body. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:15 a.m.
An autopsy revealed multiple injuries on Kothari’s upper body. The medical examiner’s office has ruled her manner of death as homicide and reported that Kothari was five months pregnant.
The Kolkata native was a former investment banker before earning a degree in pastry from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She had also been a finalist on “MasterChef India.”
A few minutes later, Jersey City police responded to a call about a possible suicide attempt in the Hudson River. Arriving at the scene, police found the body of Kothari’s husband, Manmohan Mall, 37. He was pronounced dead at 7:55 a.m.
Mall was an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and studied financial engineering at Columbia University in New York. A family relative told the Daily Voice that Mall had come to the U.S. a decade earlier to study at Columbia. Kothari followed later.
In a press statement, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said: “The Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit is actively investigating this case with assistance from the Jersey City Police Department. While it appears at this time that these deaths are the result of a murder-suicide, the final determination is still pending the findings of the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor at 201-915-1345 or to leave an anonymous tip on the Hudson County Prosecutor’s official website at http://www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/homicide-tip/. All information will be kept confidential.
Kothari’s restaurant, Nukkad, was dubbed by her as “Indian soul food.” On March 30, Kothari announced on her Facebook page, that — in view of the COVID-19 pandemic — she was temporarily shuttering her restaurant. “Amongst the many reasons of safety and well being of my employees, the main reason is that Jersey city is right next to New York City and there seems to be no decision of quarantine or lockdown or even stopping of trains from & to NYC!! So its easy for the scared and terrified people who are not getting access to testing/medication to run to other states, carrying a possible covid with them,” she wrote.
New York state has been hardest hit by the pandemic, accounting for about 45 percent of more than 51,000 deaths across the nation. New Jersey has also been hit hard, with more than 111,000 confirmed cases and 6,044 deaths.
In a later post on Facebook April 19, Kothari said she had opened Nukkad again for take-out and delivery and was also distributing free meals to the Jersey City Medical Center. She noted ruefully that she had not received a loan from the Small Business Administration. Congress had authorized $350 billion in loans to small businesses to keep them afloat during shelter-in-place orders throughout much of the nation. But larger companies quickly gobbled up funds from the program, which ran out of money in 10 days.
Banks themselves claimed over $10 billion servicing the loans.