The Sandhurst murder case, in which a pregnant woman’s body was found stuffed in a suitcase, would have remained unsolved had it not been for her clothes that helped in establishing her identity.
The Government Railway Police (GRP) probe had almost hit a roadblock, with no clue to identify the deceased or nail down the culprits. It was a Mumbra-based tailor, who identified the deceased as Rehmat Haq, based on this lead, the police managed to arrest Rehmat’s husband and his two brothers, who had killed her and then dumped her body inside a green suitcase and left it at Sandhurst station on March 14.
Just a week later, another decomposed body of a 35-year-old woman in a blue sari, was found on the tracks between Dadar and Elphinstone railway stations. The GRP registered a case of murder after the post-mortem report revealed that the woman had been strangulated and circulated her photograph in the media, clearly mentioning details of her blue sari and bangles, hoping that these would help the deceased woman’s family, friends or neighbours in recognising her. But so far, the police have not been able to make any progress. Her body lies unidentified in the morgue.
This is not the only case where the police have been unable to complete their investigation to identify a body found at tracks or ascertain the cause of death. More than 40 per cent of the bodies found on railway tracks remain unidentified and unclaimed, says a GRP official.
The Mumbai GRP have begun an identification drive as part of which they plan to make the photograph of the deceased public, with complete details of marks as well as their clothes, and belongings anything which would help in ascertaining the identity of the dead.
The GRP have started the drive in Pune and plan to implement it across the state soon. Often, the police check missing person’s complaints registered with police stations to identify the dead.
While the police try desperately to trace relatives of unidentified bodies, their families are unaware of their loved one’s fate. They don’t even get to know that the person has met with an accident on the railway tracks and is no more. The families lodge an FIR and keep waiting endlessly for the police to find their loved one, without realising that the body is lying unclaimed and unidentified at a morgue.
If nobody comes forward to claim the body, the police perform the last rites. On a more humane note, a proper identification will ensure that the deceased gets a decent funeral.
Raj Khilnani, former additional director-general (railway) and director-general (home guard and civil defence), who had kick-started this drive, said: “We make an effort to trace their relatives. The families will at least be able to perform the last rites of the dead, in accordance with their faith. But sometimes they are completely unaware of their sad end and keep waiting for them.”