The state home department headed by RR Patil came in for sharp attack in the assembly yesterday over the handling of the case involving the alleged rape and murder of three minor sisters in Bhandara. Opposition members launched a tirade against the local police for mucking up the investigations. On his part, Patil announced that the state would hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Initiating the debate under rule 101, BJP member Nana Patole demanded Patil’s resignation, alleging local police acted in haste while registering an FIR under IPC sections 302 (punishment for murder), 376 (rape) and 377 (unnatural offences), when this was not even demanded by the family of the girls.
Now, even after a month and a half of the incident the police have failed to complete the probe and it appears that no rape took place. “The police should have acted in an efficient manner. They failed to ensure post-mortem in time and let the bodies decompose for 17 hours leading to several questions. Now, the home minister should inform the house as to what the police teams appointed to probe the incident have done,” Patole demanded.
BJP member Devendra Fadnavis took the home department head on, raising questions over the working of the forensic labs. Till date 306 posts are lying vacant in the labs across the state. Even though the lab in Mumbai is running an educational course on the subject, the government has failed to accord its approval to facilitate recruitment of successful candidates for the posts of forensic experts, he said.
He also raised questions over police decision to take help of panchas while doing a panchnama. Even the appointment of police prosecutors is done based on political considerations, which has been a major cause of low conviction rate (8 per cent), he alleged.
Going a step further, leader of opposition Eknath Khadse alleged local police wanted to suppress the truth behind the death of the three sisters, perhaps because of political pressure. Shiv Sena member Ashish Jaiswal too lambasted the police.
In his reply, RR Patil denied all the allegations and said every effort was made to unearth the truth. He claimed that locals were not coming forward to aid the inquest. Despite his assurance that the police will not give up until the truth is dug out, opposition members continued to remonstrate.