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Girls' autopsies marred by forensic flaws: Experts

Three forensic reports have strengthened the claim that the three minor sisters from Bhandara - found murdered in a well on February 16 - were not sexually assaulted. Reports from Grant Medical College (GMC) and KEM Hospital in Mumbai and from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi cite that the victims had not been raped.

MiD DAY in its March 5 edition (‘Cops attempt dummy test’) had mentioned how the police intended to approach forensic experts Dr S D Nanandkar, (GMC), Dr Harish Phatka (KEM) and Dr T D Dogra (formerly with AIIMS and CBI) for ascertaining the propriety of procedures adopted by a panel of forensic non-experts at Bhandara General Hospital to perform autopsies.

Special Inspector General (Nagpur range) Rajendra Singh said, “All three experts rule out sexual assault and confirm death was due to drowning. We will now be focussing on three possibilities of death: accidental, suicidal or homicidal (pushed into the well).”

Not in line
Dr T D Dogra condemned the manner in which the Bhandara doctors conducted the post-mortems. “To my knowledge doctors who did the post-mortems do not have any knowledge of forensic medicine. They seem to be medical officers with no understanding about post-mortems.”

“In any suspected sexual assault death autopsy, usually the finger test method is never followed. Moreover, the bodies were highly decomposed, leading to the tissues becoming fragile. The worst is that instead of using proper light to examine the genital area, the lady doctor used a mobile phone light to see the extent of damage,” said Dr Dogra.

Asked if he has elaborated all this in his report, Dr Dogra said, “I was asked for an opinion and I furnished the same in brief. If the police ask for detailed notes, I can prepare the same for them and send it.” He continued, “We all make mistakes but if the mistake is pointed out, the least they can do is to rectify their mistake after consulting senior experts, rather than making it a prestige issue and claiming that their findings are correct.”

Grave incongruities

The bodies of three minors were brought in for autopsies at 8 pm on February 16. They were left out in the open without any preservation until the next day when the post-mortems were conducted.

>> In case of the 11-year-old victim, the post-mortem started at 1 pm and was completed at 2.15 pm. The body decomposed for 17 hours before autopsy started.

>> 9-year-old’s autopsy started at 2.15 pm, with the body decomposing for 18.25 hours.

>> 6-year-old’s autopsy started at 4.10 pm and the body decomposed for 20 hours.

>> Dr Harish Phatak, head of the department, forensic medicine and toxicology, KEM Hospital, found discrepancies in the post-mortem (PM) reports prepared by Bhandara panel of doctors.

>> The PM note: The deceased's eyes were closed
Forensic expert: Photograph clearly shows that eyes of 11-year-old had popped out due to decomposition, and were not closed

>> PM note: Tongue is inside the mouth and it is protruding
Forensic expert: If the tongue was inside mouth then how could it be protruding?

>> PM note: Lungs not observed by doctors as per the video
Forensic expert: Usually in a case of drowning, lungs have to be observed for size, colour, and consistency. Lungs should be cut and observed for type of fluid that is oozing out. The doctors who did the autopsy just mentioned congestion and have not given any other observation

>> PM note: There is congestion of all internal organs
Forensic expert: In case of fresh water drowning, water gets absorbed in blood circulation, which results in hyper viscosity. It is reflected in form of edema of face, congestion and swelling of internal organs

>> Forensic surgeons also expressed shock at the manner in which a cell phone light was used to examine the genital area.

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