Thirteen days since the bodies of three minor siblings were recovered from a well in Bhandara in Maharashtra, investigations into the case have taken a murkier turn.
Test results of swabs from the girls’ vaginas and other body parts show no presence of any man’s DNA on them. The report of a post-mortem conducted soon after the bodies were recovered had suggested that the girls had been raped.
Questions are now being raised about whether the girls were raped at all or if the investigation, including the collection of samples and vaginal swabs, has been shoddy.
Sources claimed that the Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Nagpur conducted two DNA tests on samples collected from the victims’ bodies, but both turned up negative for the presence of any male DNA.
On Thursday, police officials had defended their original statement of the girls being raped, saying it was based on the doctors’ report.
Dr Rushi Chahande, civil surgeon at Bhandara General Hospital, too, was on the defensive. “Whatever our doctors found during the post-mortem, we mentioned in the report.”
Nirmala Samant-Prabhavalkar, in-charge of the Maharashtra National Commission for Women (NCW), said a fact-finding team set up to look into the case had found out during discussions with Bhandara superintendent of police Aarti Singh that the DNA tests were inconclusive about rape. “The police want to take the help of some experts and have detained some suspects.”
Rekha Barhate, former member of the Maharashtra State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, stressed the need for a more thorough police investigation. “It is very strange. One report suggests the girls were raped and another claims that there was no rape.”
The girls, aged 11, eight, and six, were reported missing on February 14. Their bodies were found two days later about half a kilometre away from their village, Murmadi. But, no arrests have been made to date.