Forensic tests fail to prove sexual assault

Instead of illuminating the dark corners of the mystery that surfaced at a village well in Bhandara on February 16 in the form of bodies of three young girls, investigations so far have only shoved matters deeper into a morass of befuddlement.

MiD DAY had reported yesterday (‘Bhandara triple rape-murder: Will truth be buried under botched forensic investigation?’) about the laxity on the part of local police and civil hospital in executing the preliminary probe.

well of evidence: The three bodies were found floating in this well on February 16, at a villager’s farm, near National Highway 6 in Bhandara

Now, it’s been learnt that scientists at Forensic Science Laboratory, Nagpur have failed to find any clues to establish rape or poisoning of the sisters. This has raised serious doubts about the manner in which the cops have been probing the case so far. Speaking to MiD DAY, officials attached to FSL, Nagpur confirmed that results of all the tests conducted on the samples sent to them in the case have come out negative.

“We could not find any traces of poison, drug or alcohol in the viscera samples of the three girls. This rules out the possibility that they were under the influence of any such substance immediately before their death. Also vaginal/anal swabs didn’t give us anything, making it difficult to establish any sexual act. DNA profiling also did not throw up any male DNA,” said a representative from the laboratory.

FSL employees also said that the victims’ undergarments did not have any bloodstains. “We have done numerous tests on the samples, and have repeated them only to be extra cautious, as the case was very sensitive. The report was prepared and handed over to the police only after we were utterly certain about our findings,” the official added.

Dead end?
The FSL findings have only baffled the police further. Moreover, the panel — with no forensic experts — that conducted the autopsy on the bodies, is completely clueless about the exact cause of death, and unless that is ascertained the entire probe would reach a dead end.

The worst part is that the local doctors who did the post-mortem had even informed cops that all three girls were subjected to repeated rape and sexual assault prior to their death.  Bhandara superintendent of police Aarti Singh confirmed that the viscera report was negative and so were the other findings. Asked if they were still probing the rape angle, Singh said, “We are yet to receive the entire FSL report. A decision would be taken after consulting our superiors.”

Special IG of police (Nagpur Range) Rajendra Singh too expressed a similar view. However, when asked if they would disinter the corpses for a second autopsy, he replied, “Exhumation would be the last option and a decision on the same would be taken shortly.” Meanwhile, inquires have revealed that civil surgeon Dr Rushi Chahande from Bhandara General Hospital was holding an ad interim profile and he is a radiologist by profession.

When informed about the negative test reports of FSL and asked why he and his team could not determine the exact cause of death, Dr Chahande said, “Once we get the FSL report in our hand, the team of doctors who conducted the autopsy would be summoned, and they would prepare the requisite reports accordingly.”

When asked if the doctors on the panel or he himself had ever conducted autopsies in such intricate cases before, Dr Chahande replied in the negative, stating, “We were informed by police that the girls had drowned in the well. Since we usually perform post-mortem in drowning cases, we did not suspect any foul play. But during autopsy our doctors found that the victims had been raped.”

An SC/ST commission member, CL Thool, said, “I will submit a detailed report in this case to the state government shortly. I will be considering all the loopholes and factual positions of the incident in my account. Also, I would recommend that those public servants (doctors/police) who failed in their duty and misled the entire investigation be punished.”  

Cops collect underwear, lungi
Special police teams have collected as many as 200 undergarments of the men who were questioned in connection with the alleged rape of the girls. Cops even collected the lungis and towels that some of the villagers were wearing. The collected garments were to be sent to the FSL for testing. Senior police officers confirmed the development, but refused to divulge any further information.

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