Pregnant woman Sonam Shelar died after falling accidentally from a pier and hitting her head, says her grieving husband.
A large search in the Wellington region was launched by police for the 26-year-old – who was five months pregnant – after she was reported missing on November 17 having been last seen walking onto a bus bound for the suburb of Island Bay.
Her body was found on White Rock Beach, on the Wairarapa coastline four days later.
Police ruled out foul play – after earlier claims from her family that she might have been murdered - and referred the death to the Coroner.
Sagar Shelar told the Herald on Sunday he thought the public's perception was that he might have had something to do with her disappearance.
"It definitely felt really bad because I am her husband and what husband who is going to be a father would do that? People who don't know us were saying things about me. I don't care what people think of me. I wish she was right here with me."
Shelar said officers investigating her disappearance had indicated his wife might have accidentally slipped off the Island Bay pier, striking her head on the way down.
"Police were saying that day it was slippery on the pier and she might have fallen into the water," the 32-year-old said.
"They are thinking it was an accident. At five 5 past 11 her phone was switched off . . . that's when I think she must have slipped over. It was a bad day - very wet and windy. The police told me she hit her head, that's all."
He said police had shown him CCTV footage of her walking to the bus and then walking along the Island Bay beach.
Shelar said that in the footage he did not believe she looked "distressed" or "unhappy".
Police would not confirm Shelar's comments, saying the death had been referred to the Coroner "who will confirm the cause of death".
Sonam and her husband were born and raised in Mumbai.
She was a receptionist for a celebrity cosmetic surgeon, Vijay Sharma, and he was a chef. They met via the Bharat Matrimonial website – one of India's leading match-making websites.
"She was beautiful, there was no doubt," Shelar said.
He added he was looking for a bride who would take "care of me for the rest of my lives" and love him the way that he loved her.
"I liked her way of thinking, she had a good nature - I knew we could build a future together".
The couple wed in India last December and set up base in New Zealand in April.
"She was close to her mum and called her 15 times a day because she was lonely," he said.
"She stopped eating and refused to leave the house. I suggested she make some friends with the local Wellington Indian community. But all she wanted to do was sit at home."
Two days before her disappearance Sonam, who dreamed of having a baby boy, had her first ultrasound.
Shelar hopes he will eventually learn the gender of the baby he will never get to hold.
Members of Sonam's family travelled from India to Wellington for her funeral two weeks ago.
Before they left for Mumbai last week Sagar and the family scattered half of her ashes into the water at Island Bay. Her parents took the remainder of her ashes back to India.
"It is our tradition to scatter ashes in the Ganga [Ganges River], the holy river," Shelar said. "We believe the person's spirit will be re-birthed and go to heaven."
Every day Shelar feels "empty and alone" at home. The unopened baby clothes, the baby car seat and the empty cot are cruel reminders of what he has lost.
"I did everything to take care of Sonam and the baby. She wasn't lacking anything," he said.
"I miss her completely: her voice, her smile, her everything. I dreamed of being a father and it was so close - there were only four months left to go. Now that's been taken away from me, too."