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Colonial Cases

Gopal Harri, 1959

[coronial inquest]

Inquest on the Body of Gopal Harri, 1959

Consular Court, Kuwait


Source: National Archives (U.K.) FO955/430








1959 (No. 1/59)





INQUEST No. 1/59.


March 21, 1959.


The inquest is held in the presence of Mr. Elliott, Special Police Officer, and Mr. P. D. Wright of the K.O.C.  Mr. Abdul Ghani acts as an interpreter.

W. (Witness) 1.  Metha Bhai, K.O.C. No. 6454, Hindu affirmed, says: I am employed by the K.O.C. in the furnishings section.  I live in 68/3B Ahmadi room No. A.

   I know the late Gopal Harri; he used to live in the same Quarters in room No. B.

   At 5.30 a.m. of Friday the 13th day of March, 1959, I got up and went to the kitchen.  I put the kettle on, then I went to the bathroom.  The door of the bathroom was locked.  I looked up and saw through the glass that Gopal Harri was hanging in the bathroom.  I ran to the other occupant and informed him of what I saw.  He rushed and saw the deceased hanging.  The other occupants of the Quarters got up.  I then went with Mr. [P.B.K.] Menon to the clinic.  A European male nurse accompanied us to the scene followed by an ambulance.  The Nurse broke the glass door, put his arm through & opened the door.  He lifted the body up and I released him from the cord.  The deceased was given first aid & then removed to the Clinic.  This is the cord by which the deceased was hanging, Ex. A.   This drum, Ex. B was lying on the floor of the bathroom below the hanging body.  These slippers Rx. C. which belong to the deceased were on the floor of the bathroom.

   I had known the deceased for over ten years.  We worked together the greatest part of that period.  We have not lived together in the same quarters except during the last six months.

   On the 14th I came to Magwa Hospital and identified the body of the deceased before the Judge.

   As far as I could tell, the deceased was a normal person but not a happy one.

   He never discussed any personal matters with me.  He never complained to me about anything.

   I know from him that the deceased was a family man & was a grandfather.

Metha Bhai No. 6454.

Ahmad Hijazi.

W. 2. John Ferguson, K.O.C. No. 1378, British, Christian, sworn, says: I am a charge nurse and work at the Ahmadi Clinic.  I was on duty on the 13th of this month.  As a result of information I visited the Artisans' Quarters, that was at about 6 a.m.

   The door of the bathroom was locked from the inside. I could, however, see through the glass a body hanging in the bathroom.  I broke the glass, put my arm in and opened the door.  W. 1. And I released the body.  I tried artificial respiration & heart stimulant but there was no response.  The body was then removed to the Clinic.  Dr. Henderson then received the body and dealt with the case.

   With the exception of the mark on the neck I saw no external marks on the body of the deceased.

   The cord from which deceased was hanging is similar to Ex. A.  I remember seeing a drum in the bathroom similar to Ex. B.  From what I saw I was convinced it was a case of suicide.

   Of course I explained to Dr. Henderson the circumstances under which I found the body.

W. 3. Dr. Robert Victor Henderson.  Medical Officer K.O.C. Ltd. British, Christian, sworn, says:

   I was the duty Dr. on the 13th of March.  I was called to the clinic at 6.30 a.m. on that day.  There I found a dead body.  The body had a deep cord mark round the neck.  There was no other sign of violence on the body.  Death in my opinion must have taken place about 4.45 a.m. the same morning.

   From the cards I was handed I know that the deceased was called Gopal Harri.

   According ton our records the deceased had not seen a Dr. since June, 1957.  At that time the deceased submitted his resignation on the ground that he had not been feeling well for a long time.  On examination, however, he was found fit to continue his work & [then] he was persuaded to withdraw his resignation.

   From this letter, Ex. D., however, it looks as though the reason for the resignation was domestic trouble.

   There is no medical history of the deceased since that date, i.e., since June 1957.

R. Henderson.

            M.B.B.S., 21/3/59.

Ahmad Hijazi.

W. 4. Dr. Harold Montgomery.  Medical Officer, K.O.C. Ltd, British, Christian, sworn, says: I am the Pathologist.  The Death Certificate Ex. E. bears my signature.

   I examined the body of the deceased at 8 a.m. at the Ahmadi Clinic & again on the Judge's presence at Magwa Hospital.

   The fact that his vital processes were interfered with by a cord round his neck resulted in rapid death.  His death must have been instantaneous mainly through the breaking of the neck & not through choking.

   With the exception of a bruise on the neck there was no sign of violence on the body of the deceased.

H. Montgomery. 

M.B.B.S. 21/3/59.

Ahmad Hijazi.

W. 5. G. N. Francis.  Indian, Christian, sworn, says: I am employed by the K.O.C, under No. 7718 in the Confectionery & Bakery section.  I live in Block 68/3B.  I knew the deceased when I moved into the same Quarters as those occupied by the deceased, i.e. six months ago.

   I saw the deceased on Thursday the 12th day of March, 1959, at 4 p.m.  I was going to the Cinema & asked whether he wanted to go too.  He declined.  I did not see him when I came back from the Cinema.

   Three days before he died the deceased came into my room.  He did not look well.  I asked what was wrong and he told me that he had received a letter from home which contained bad news; his wife was not well, that her head was becoming shaky (senile tremor).  I tried to calm him & suggested that he should send money so that she'll be able to have medical attention.  He remained moody and depressed.  He stayed for about half an hour.

   Before receiving this news the deceased seemed quite all right.  After that he changed; he became depressed & moody.  I saw him daily after that but he never mentioned his wife to me again.

   When I asked whether he was going to the Cinema he looked preoccupied, deep in thought & was still depressed.  I tried to press him to go but he would not.  He kept on going to work until the last day.

   On Friday morning I saw him hanging in the bathroom with the door locked.

G. N. Francis.

Ahmad Hijazi.

W. 6. Vallab Banna.  Indian, Hindu, affirmed says: I am employed by K.O.C. under No. 17399 as a furniture polisher.

   I have known the deceased for over ten years.  We sat in the same mess.  I saw him every day.

   As far as I could gather he was an ordinary person, not too jolly.

   On Thursday evening the 12th of March I saw the deceased sitting sadly in the mess.  I asked him to join me. (He had been moody & sad for the last three days or so), but he would not.  I then went to my room.  Deceased did not volunteer any information to me about his sadness.  I did not ask him about the cause. 

   The deceased wanted to leave the K.O.C. in 1957 because he was not feeling well.  The deceased returned from leave in a little less than a year.

   The last time I saw the deceased's body was last Saturday when I identified the body in the presence of the judge.  The body was that of Gopal Harri.


Ahmad Hijazi.


On the 13th day of March, 1959, Gopal Harri an Indian national and an employee of the Kuwait Oil Company Ltd. was found hanging by the neck in the bathroom at 68/3B Ahmadi Artisan Quarters.  He was already dead.

   According to medical evidence death must have been instantaneous through the breaking of the neck and must have taken place at about 4.45 a.m.

   The bathroom in which the deceased was found was locked from inside.  There was a small drum lying on its floor and the deceased's slippers were there too.

   The deceased was not, according to evidence before me, a particularly happy person.  No doubt he had something on his mind.  In June of 1957 the deceased submitted his resignation on account of some domestic worries at home.  This unhappiness increased greatly three or four days prior to his death.  He told Mr. Francis that he had had bad news from his wife.  The unhappiness and depression caused by this news remained with the deceased until his death.  Things became worse on the 12th of March.  In the afternoon of that day deceased looked preoccupied in his room and refused to go with Mr. Francis to the Cinema.  In the evening of the same day he remained on his own in the mess, quiet & sad, and refused to join Mr. Banna who invited him to his Quarters.  No doubt things must have reached such a climax in the loneliness and stillness of the night that the deceased must have lost his power of reasoning.

   I am satisfied that the deceased committed suicide while the balance of his mind was disturbed.  Given this 21st day of March, 1959.

Ahmad Hijazi.

Asst. Judge.


Reference Labour Division WO/6783 dated 1st June 1957.

   The above named first reported on 12-3.57 from pain in the back and x-ray showed minimum disc changes in the Lumbar Vertebrae.  He was treated and was given 4 days off duty and felt better.

   Again reported in 11-5-57 for Dyspepsia and vague pains and was put on Tonic line of Treatment.  Reported again on 2-5-57 with the above letter and the detailed investigation did not reveal any organic disease.  He stated here, that he has some domestic worries and had resigned for that reason, but the situation is better at home, and h would like to continue.  He has some vague pains in the back off and on, but it should not interfere with his normal and usual duties.  It is almost static and does not need any active interference.

   His attendance in the Clinic is rare and is on the average in a good state of health.


M.B.B.S., D.C.O.

   15th June 1957

Ex. E.  AG, 21/3/1959

F 3637



Death  Certificate.

Details as in previous documents; aged 48; details of family, disposal of body, etc.

Inquest 1/59.


Death Report in respect of:-


AGE:- 52 Years.



KUWAIT ADDRESS; C/O K.O.C. Ltd., Ahmadi.


                                    TEHSIL, KUMBARWADA, SURAT. INDIA.

  1. I.                 The deceased, GOPAL HARRI, a Hindu male, and an employee of the Kuwait Oil Company, was occupying one room in a block of artisan quarters at No. 68/3/B, South Ahmadi.
  2. II.                  At about 05.30 hours on the 13th of March, 1959, one MEHTA BAI (I.O.C. 6454), another occupant of the block visited the communal bath and privy, but found the entrance door looked from the inside.  He looked through the glass panes, which are fitted to the upper part of the door, and saw the late Gopal Hari hanging from a pipe in one of the bath cubicles.  He informed the other occupants.  Two of them MEHTA BAI and P. B. K. MENON, reported the matter to the Ahmadi Clinic.
  3. V.               On receipt of this information the duty charge nurse, Mr. FERGUSON, went to the block, broke the door and released the deceased.  He immediately gave him artificial respiration and an injection of Coramine.  He then took the body to the Clinic where he was seen by Dr. Henderson who was of the opinion that the deceased had a broken neck.
  4. Enquiries reveal that the deceased was mentally disturbed at the new of his wife's illness.  He was also observed to be unusually quiet just prior to his death.
  5. I.              The body was viewed by the coroner on the afternoon of the 14th March in the mortuary at Magwa Hospital in presence of two witnesses who identified it as the late Gopal Hari.
  6. II.            A Judicial Inquiry has been ordered and will be held at 09.30 hours in the K. O. C. Hospital Magwa on the 21st instant.


Special Police Officer.


16th March, 1959.



INQUEST No. 1/59.

Typescript version of the Verdict given above.



Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School