The foetus removed from the West Bengal gang-rape and murder victim during autopsy is in danger of decomposition and may not yield DNA for forensic purposes given the way the police have stored it at a police station, HT has learnt.
A police officer wishing anonymity said the foetus was kept in the store room of Airport Police Station for 48 hours. The norm is to preserve it in sub-zero temperature in a bacteria-free environment.
This is one more accusation against the police that appears to have carried out the investigation into the shocking incident in a very casual manner from the beginning.
Eleven days after the girl was set afire by two of the accused, the police are yet to consult any forensic expert. They also did not film the autopsy, which according to the human rights commission is mandatory in cases of unnatural deaths. But the callous handling of the foetus seems to top it all.
The tissue samples of the foetus were sent to Central Forensic State Laboratory (CFSL) on January 3, a good four days after the girl died at the RG Kar Hospital on December 31.
Eminent film director Aparna Sen, painter Samir Aich and intellectuals take part in a protest rally against rape of a 16-year-old girl, in Kolkata. (PTI Photo)
Read: Gang-rape victim’s parents to meet President on Tuesday, CPI(M) suspects she was raped thrice
"Whenever we hand over tissue samples to the police after postmortem, we inform them about the guidelines on how to preserve the samples," said Professor Sovan Das, head department of forensic medicine at RG Kar Hospital.
Das said the tissues shall be kept in refrigerators at below 0 degree centigrade temperature, as a decomposed sample can yield erroneous results when the DNA test is performed.
"We only tag a label and seal the container carrying the samples. It’s the responsibility of the police to preserve the samples till they are sent to a forensic laboratory," Das said.
He said the possibility of extracting DNA from the tissues for tests becomes very low if the samples are not preserved properly.
"We advise the police to submit samples to CFSL as fast as possible in order to get authentic results. I do not know whether they have done it as per our guidelines," Das said.
He said while bone marrow or tooth pulp can be preserved in a normal refrigerator, a foetus must be preserved in sub-zero environment.
The victim’s father alleged on Saturday that the police are not investigating the case properly.
"They are yet to call forensic experts to collect samples from our house in the airport area where the criminals had set my daughter on fire. Police are also yet to seal the area to protect evidences. As a result, anyone can easily tamper with the evidence from the spot," he said.