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MasterChef finalist, husband dead in apparent murder-suicide

New York, May 1 (IANS) A “Master Chef: India” finalist whose restaurant had closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and her husband have died “in an apparent murder-suicide,” according to a prosecutor in New Jersey.

Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said that police found Garima Kothari, 35, who was five-months pregnant, dead in her residence in Jersey City on Sunday morning with injuries to the upper body and her husband, Man Mohan Mall, 37, in the Hudson River.

Both were declared dead at the scene.

“While it remains at this time that these deaths are the result of a murder-suicide, the final determination is still pending the complete findings of the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office,” Suarez said in a statement.

She said that the medical examiner has determined after a postmortem that Kothari’s death was a homicide while the cause of Mall’s death was still pending.

Kothari’s restaurant, Nukkad, which opened in February in Jersey City, was closed a month later because of the COVID-19 restrictions.

She re-opened it partially in April for only pick-up and delivery orders and delivered donated meals to healthcare workers at the Jersey City Medical Centre, New Jersey magazine reported.

A week before her death, she gave an indication in a Facebook post about the financial difficulties of small restaurants and complained about large restaurant chains grabbing federal loans meant for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She wrote, “Yet another tough decision “Nukkad is up and running” even on Sundays now. I would so appreciate the support of the community at this point of time! Existence in silo is not possible, hence I feel compelled to stay open & support my skeletal staff & be able to pay some fixed expenses (now that small biz fed loans have been lapped up by the Ruths & Shake shacks!!)”

Later, Shake Shack chain that operates nearly 250 restaurants and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse with about 80 locations agreed to return the Paycheck Protection Programme loans meant for small businesses that they had taken.

When the restaurant opened, New Jersey magazine wrote that Nukkad “is an elegant-looking fast-casual Indian restaurant doing “Indian Soul Food” from chef Garima Kothari, one of the top 15 finalists from ‘Master Chef: India’.”

It said that Kothari had started as an investment banker in India but switched careers after her performance on the “Master Chef” show.

The magazine said that she studied pastry and baking at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and after working as a pastry chef she opened a catering company, Breaking Bread Co, in Jersey City before starting Nukkad with her husband.

Mall described himself on Facebook as an IIT Kharagpur graduate with an advanced degree in financial engineering from Columbia University in New York.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is becoming a quagmire for a young Atlanta family stranded in India because of the lockdown. They are now facing the prospect of losing their legal status in the US, if they cannot make it back before June 6. “My wife, three-year-old daughter and I came to India on February 23, 2020 for a family wedding, and were scheduled to return to Atlanta on March 23, 2020, but due to the lockdown our flight was canceled and we are stuck here since,” the tech professional (name withheld to protect his identity) told NRI Pulse via email. His H1-B visa is expiring on June 8. “Our attorney suggested that we get an extension after returning to the US, but now, with the lockdown getting extended every time we plan to travel, the risk for applying (for an) extension from the US is increasing.” Adding to the prospect of legal trouble is the fact that he cannot work remotely from India, which means he has had to go without pay. “It’s a huge financial drain on us,” he said. The family recently bought a home in Cumming, Georgia. The family has been trying to get on one of the flights arranged by the State Department to airlift US citizens and green card holders out of India. Their daughter is a US citizen. They are hoping the government of India will help them and others caught in their situation to get back to the US. Full report on our website. Link in bio. #strandedinindia #h1bvisa #nrinews

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