So far, Bhandara police hasn’t had a breakthrough in the case of the three minor girls’ bodies found inside a well on February 16. Blunder after blunder has been exposed by MiD DAY, starting February 28 (‘Will truth be buried under botched forensic investigation?’). To their credit, the cops tried to be inventive on occasions, but in vain. For instance, after time-honoured methods failed, cops prepared a mannequin each of the three girls, to size and weight, and tossed them into the well on Saturday.
Special inspector general of police (Nagpur Range) Rajendra Singh confirmed this to MiD DAY and said, “This experiment was done to determine if the resonance produced could be heard 100 metres away where a dhaba is located. Unfortunately, the answer is negative.” The exercise was important, as a man at the dhaba had claimed to have spotted the three sisters near the well on the afternoon of February 14. The girls went missing the same day.
Also, after tests on samples sent to Forensic Science Laboratory, Nagpur coming out negative – as MiD DAY had reported on March 1 – police have now sent the viscera, swabs (vaginal/anal) and the victims’ clothes to Central Forensic Laboratory, Hyderabad for a second opinion, before deciding whether or not to change their line of investigation.
Based on the post-mortem findings from Bhandara General Hospital, cops had concentrated their entire probe on working out the sexual assault and murder angle. However, 12 days later, reports from FSL Nagpur forced them to do a rethink. Speaking to MiD DAY, a senior representative from FSL, Nagpur, said, “We received a letter from the police last Friday requesting us to return remnants of viscera and other samples that were given to us for testing, and we complied.”
Asked how the viscera and swabs had remained with them after testing, an expert said, “In such sensitive cases, we take out only 60 to 80 per cent of the specimens for tests, including DNA profiling. The residues are preserved. When we submit our report, we clearly mention to the police that if they do not get back to us within 15 days, we would destroy the remaining samples. Police reserve the right to seek a second opinion.” “We are certain about our findings that no male DNA was present in the swab samples sent to us, and the viscera did not show any traces of poison or alcohol. Also, the DNA profiling on the clothes was inconclusive,” said the expert.
“We had to get a second estimation. So the samples were sent to the Central FSL, Hyderabad for other tests. The report should reach us in a week,” special IGP Rajendra Singh said. Rukmani Krishnamurthy, chairman, Helik Advisory Ltd, and former head, directorate of FSLs in Maharashtra, said, “Normally a second opinion can be taken on the remnants of samples from an FSL with superior techniques and expertise to come to an apt conclusion in such cases. A repeat test only confirms the earlier findings, which may give a clear direction to the investigators.”
Also, police have decided to engage a panel of forensic experts from Mumbai and Delhi, to whom copies of video clippings and other evidences collected so far would be sent soon. The team would comprise Dr SD Nanandkar (professor and head of department, forensic medicine and toxicology, Grant Medical College), Dr Harish Pathak (professor and head of forensic department, KEM medical college), and Dr TD Dogra (retired professor and director, forensic medicine and toxicology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi. He was also the forensic advisor for CBI) and would assist the police in assessing the manner in which the autopsies were performed by the panel from Bhandara General Hospital, which had no forensic experts.
Acting civil surgeon at Bhandara General hospital, Dr Rushi Chahande, said, “We have just followed the police’s instructions, and my doctors have given their findings on the basis of their level of understanding. I have no data about medico-legal cases and was not present during the post-mortem. I have been on the post of the civil surgeon for the last two months.”