An accident only, they said
Cops asked parents to find suspects after a speeding vehicle killed engineer Sansrity Sinha at the IGI airport, reports Vijaita Singh.delhi Updated: Jan 19, 2010 23:44 IST
She had bought the watch with her first salary.
It was strapped to her wrist as she lay near the tarmac, soaked in blood, the dial frozen at 9.56 pm.
Sansrity Sinha (28) was killed on October 22, 2007 by a speeding vehicle at the New Delhi airport, minutes after she told her roommate she'd call later — three days before she was to meet a prospective suitor.
Then, evidence was destroyed.
It wasn't some deserted road in India's capital where more than 2,100 people are killed in road accidents every year, most killers never caught.
It was the Indira Gandhi International airport, one of the country's most tightly guarded installations. Where the entry and exit of every car is listed in tedious log books. Where every employee and his location are accounted for. Where security cameras scour the premises 24X7.
Yet, police did not find a single suspect or eyewitness.
What's the big deal, police investigators told the family.
“Policemen at the airport kept telling us to get witnesses and find the suspect on our own,” said Sheila Kumari Ambasta, Sansrity's mother, principal, BN Collegiate Inter School in Patna.
“They said it was only an accident, not a murder, so why were we so bothered?” she said, speaking by telephone from her home in Patna.
Ambasta clearly remembers the last conversation with her daughter, who had slept all day after a night shift.
“It was 6 pm. I scolded her for not eating anything through the day. I asked her to eat first and then talk to me.” Sinha, youngest of three siblings, was on the night shift that would get over at 6 am the next day. Shortly before 10 o'clock, she was on way to the technical area to get repair equipment after an Air Deccan (now Kingfisher) flight that was to take off for Chennai developed a snag.
“I talked to her around 9.30 pm. She told me that there was a shortage of staff and she was overburdened,” said Shilpi, Sansrity's roommate.
Sansrity shared an apartment at Mahipalpur, barely two kilometers away from the domestic airport, with two other women from Bihar.
“She said she was keeping very busy and would talk to me later,” Shilpi said.
Then the vehicle slammed into her, and she lay on the ground, covered in her own blood.
Her head had tyre marks on it.
Forensic reports said Sinha was hit, tossed in the air and then run over after she fell on the ground.
No one knew the body had been lying on the tarmac near Bay 125, until a SpiceJet pilot who was about to take off, noticed it, and informed the Air Traffic Control (ATC) at 10.10 pm.
For 15 minutes — ‘golden minutes’ after such injuries, in medical parlance — her body lay unattended.
“At 10.30 pm, I got a frantic call from her roommate Chitra who said she was no more,” said Ambasta.
Three days later, she was to accompany her parents to Bangalore to meet an engineer they hoped she’d marry.
When the police reached the spot, the blood stains had been wiped off.
Police filed a case of destruction of evidence. They could not say who wiped the marks, or the reason.
Based on forensic tests, police tracked down six follow-me jeeps plying around the time Sansrity was killed, but could not match the residues extracted forensically from the vehicles, with that of her blood group.
Here is a window into the Airport Police’s attitude towards the case: the heavy file containing the First Information Report (FIR), forensics and postmortem report, sketches of the scene of crime — does not even have the family’s phone or address.
“The log books were seized and the vehicles plying around that time were impounded. The forensic examination did not bear any fruit,” said a senior police officer who investigated the case, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The accused would have got ample time to wash away the stains,” he said.
The parents have since made several trips to Delhi, filing a writ petition in the Delhi High Court, petitioning the National Human Rights Commission and filing a Right To Information (RTI) Act application in their quest for truth.
“After we moved the High Court in May 2008, the case was transferred to the Crime Branch in February 2009. No one from the unit called us ever,” recalled Arun Kumar Sinha, a professor at GJ College, Patna.
No one still knows who killed his daughter, who wanted to be as famous as astronaut Kalpana Chawla.
“One day, I will be over all the newspapers,” her mother said Sansrity had once told her. “I did not know she will be covered like this in newspapers.”