According to a report submitted to the police department by a team of forensic experts in the alleged rape and murder of three girls in Bhandara district, the girls died of drowning and there was no evidence of rape. The police, however, claimed this is only an interim report and that further analysis is required. Sources said the investigation will now focus on whether the girls drowned by accident or if they had been pushed into the well.
Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women in its fact-finding committee’s report said the post-mortem on the three bodies was conducted in an “unscientific manner”. Nirmala Samant-Prabhavalkar, in-charge of Maharashtra state for the NCW, said, “There should be a probe into the doctors’ panel that conducted the autopsy and declared that the girls had been raped.”
The NCW report stated that the two-finger test for rape, banned after SC directives, was used during the autopsy. The bodies had not been kept in cold storage, and were decomposing by the time the autopsy was conducted, having already been in water for several hours before they were found.
The girls, aged 11, eight, and six, were reported missing after school hours on February 14. Their bodies were found two days later in a well near a farmhouse about half a kilometre from their village, Murmadi. No arrest has been made in the case.
The fact-finding committee and forensic experts both studied the videography of the autopsy. “They should have taken the opinion of experts before submitting the autopsy report to the police department,” Prabhavalkar said.
Civil surgeon Bhandara Rushi Chahande said that the doctors who conducted the autopsy found there was evidence of rape and so reported it. “I cannot comment further,” he said.
Director General of Police, Maharashtra, Sanjeev Dayal confirmed that they had received the reports. “The forensic report is very analytical and we are in the process of studying it. We cannot comment on it right now.”
Superintendent of Police, Bhandara, Aarti Singh said, “It an interim report we are awaiting the final report. It is very premature to comment.”
Before the diatom test, tests had revealed no presence of any male DNA in samples, raising doubts as to whether the girls were raped at all, or if the investigation, including the collection of vaginal swabs, was shoddy.
Sources said that forensic report also supported the findings of the diatom test.