Home minister RR Patil, on Monday, told the state Assembly that the case involving the alleged rape and murder of three minor girls in Bhandara will be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Patil conceded to a CBI probe in a special discussion on recent incidents of crimes against women, after he was cornered by the Opposition legislators on the failure of the police in catching the culprits in the Bhandara case, even a month after the incident.
Despite forming nine teams, recording statements of 300 witnesses and making inquiries with more than 500 persons, the police department has failed to reach a conclusion, said Patil. “We still don’t know whether the girls were pushed into the well or whether it was an accident. Forensic experts attached to three hospitals — KEM, JJ hospital and AIIMS in Delhi — said that the death was because of drowning and there was no evidence to show rape,” he said.
Referring to Dr Dogra’s report, he said that the wounds on private parts could have been caused by decomposition.
The first post-mortem report conducted by a group of five doctors had said that the girls were raped before being killed. However, a report of a forensic laboratory test conducted on the viscera of the bodies showed no evidence of rape.
Legislators from the Opposition such as Bharatiya Janata Party’s Nana Patole and Devendra Fadnavis slammed the police investigation, questioning the 17-hour delay in conducting an autopsy. Patole, who hails from Bhandara, had moved the debate in the Assembly.
“There was no cold storage facility and no efforts were taken to transfer the bodies to Nagpur hospital, which is just 7km away, or even put them on slabs of ice. They were left to decompose, which has led to the confusion over the exact nature of the crime,” said Fadnavis.
Patil, who tried to defend the police was caught off-guard after he assured the House that CBI probe would be announced if the family or the victims request for it.
The Leader of Opposition, Eknath Khadse, read out a letter dated March 3, 2013, sent by the mother of the three girls to the chief minister, where she had requested that the probe be handed over to the CBI, as both the CID and the local police had not made any headway in the probe even 17 days after the crime. A copy of this letter had been marked to Khadse.