No evidence of sexual assault in autopsy, cops quiz pillion rider

Jan 04, 2023 01:03 AM IST

The post-mortem examination of a 20-year-old woman, whose death on New Year’s Day triggered outrage, revealed no injuries suggesting sexual assault, police said on Tuesday.

The post-mortem examination of a 20-year-old woman, whose death on New Year’s Day triggered outrage, revealed no injuries suggesting sexual assault, police said on Tuesday as authorities questioned the victim’s friend who was present at the spot and may be the key to answering niggling questions surrounding the grisly incident.

The victim’s body being taken home ahead of her last rites on Tuesday. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)
The victim’s body being taken home ahead of her last rites on Tuesday. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

Police say five men in a grey Maruti Suzuki Baleno hit the victim, Anjali Kumari, who was riding a scooty along with a friend in Sultanpuri; the impact entangled her body to the underside of the car, which then drove on for at least two hours, dragging her body for at least 14km before it dislodged in a mangled state and was found by local residents in outer Delhi’s Kanjhawala.

The gruesome death sparked outrage and a political controversy, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) blaming lieutenant governor VK Saxena, who controls Delhi Police.

Also Read | Sultanpuri accident: 12 AAP MLAs meet top cop, demand outer district’s DCP be removed

Kumari’s family also alleged that the woman, who was cremated on Tuesday evening, was sexually assaulted. But police said that post-mortem exam, conducted by a three-member medical board at Maulana Azad Medical College, found no such proof. “The report indicates that there is no injury suggestive of sexual assault,” said special commissioner of police Sagar Preet Hooda.

“The report has been obtained in which it has been stated that the provisional cause of death is shock and haemorrhage as a result of ante-mortem injury to the head, spine, left femur, both lower limbs. All injuries are produced by blunt force impact and possible with vehicular accident and dragging,” he added. “The final report will be received in due course.”

HT has seen a portion of the report in which doctors said the woman sustained injuries on her head, spine, left femur and both lower limbs. The final report will be given only after chemical analysis and biological sample reports.

A senior police officer, requesting anonymity, said, “The autopsy findings combined with the eyewitness accounts confirms that the victim was alive after being hit by the car. The eyewitness has confirmed that she shouted for help when she got trapped. The dragging subsequently caused the fatal injuries.”

Politics around the ghastly crime continued on Tuesday.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal met the victim’s family and announced 10 lakh compensation. “I spoke to the victim’s mother. We will ensure justice for the daughter by fielding the biggest lawyer. These days, the mother doesn’t keep well, we will get her treated. We will give the family a compensation of 10 lakh,” he tweeted. “The government stands with the family. In future, if they need some help, we will help them.”

A delegation of AAP leaders also met police commissioner Sanjay Arora and raised alleged lapses by police. There was no response from the Delhi police on the allegations.

The five men, who were allegedly drunk, are in police custody and facing maximum sentence of life imprisonment on charges of culpable homicide (IPC Section 304), though police officers indicated on Tuesday that more stringent charge of murder under IPC Section 302may be levelled against them.

The investigation turned to the victim’s friend Nidhi, who was riding pillion with the deceased woman minutes before the accident. Police recorded her statement before a magistrate on Tuesday and recovered CCTV footage that showed the two women leaving a hotel in Rohini at 1.31am on January 1 — Nidhi said they were attending a New Year’s bash — about 15 minutes before the car accident in Sultanpuri.

Nidhi confirmed that the Baleno hit the scooty and added that she fled the accident scene fearing legal hassles. “I can never forget what happened that night. We had a fight over riding the two-wheeler. I let her drive as she kept insisting. We nearly missed hitting a truck first but were struck by another vehicle a few metres away,” said Nidhi.

“I received minor injuries on the eyes but Anjali got stuck under the car… the car did not stop. The vehicle went ahead and then reversed and then went forward again at high speed,” she added.

She said the accused knew the woman was stuck under their vehicle. Asked why she did not inform the victim’s family or the police, she said she was scared and feared that she would be blamed for the accident.

“She [Nidhi] is cooperating with the police in the investigation. In CCTV footage, Nidhi was seen accompanying the victim just before the incident. She did not sustain any injury. Her statement has been recorded,” said Hooda.

An investigator said Nidhi told them she saw Kumari’s foot getting stuck in the car. “She said that the men were totally drunk. She said the men knew they had hit Kumari as her leg was stuck to the car. They continued to reverse their car while Kumari was stuck under it,” said the investigator, requesting anonymity.

The testimony is important because Nidhi may be the sole witness of the accident.

Police said the five men borrowed a friend’s car and were on their way back after drinking and eating when they hit the woman in Sultanpuri. The first call was received by the police control room at 1.45am about a blue scooty found on the road in Sultanpuri, indicating that the alleged accident happened either at this time or earlier. At 2.30am, police say the control room received a call from a resident of Vijay Vihar, who said he saw a car dragging along a body.

At 3.24am, police say a dairy owner from Kanjhawala called the control room saying a Baleno was dragging a body along. The man remained in touch with the police till 4am, in which time he reported the car doing at least three rounds of a local stretch. Finally, at 4.11am, a food delivery executive called the control room, saying a woman’s body was lying at a crossing in Kanjhawala. Police reached the spot at 4.15am. By 5am, the men had returned the car to the owners. Half an hour later, they were picked up by the police on charges of causing death due to negligence (Section 304-A) and rash driving (Section 279). They now face the more serious charge of culpable homicide amounting to murder (Section 304).

But several questions remain unanswered about the sequence of events.

It remains unclear how exactly the body got entangled in the underside of the car, given that the scooty didn’t show any major sign of damage, or how the five men didn’t realise they were dragging a woman along for nearly two-and-a-half hours. Moreover, police statements indicate that the men were on the road between 1.45am and 4.11am, but only travelled a distance of 14km, triggering doubts about their speed and intent, especially because they were also seen taking several U-turns. And Nidhi’s statement adds another element to this list of unanswered questions — why did she not raise an alarm when she saw her friend being dragged away that night.

Police have identified the five men as Deepak Khanna (26) a bus driver, Amit Khanna (25), who works in the SBI cards division in Uttam Nagar, Krishan (27) who works at the Spanish Culture Centre, Mithun Kumar (26) a hairdresser in Naraina, and Manoj Mittal (27) who works at a ration shop in Sultanpuri.

The death provoked outrage on Monday with Kejriwal calling for the death penalty for the five men. Saxena also said he was monitoring the case with the Union home ministry asking for a probe into the incident.

The woman was cremated late on Tuesday evening amid high police security at a cremation ground in Mangolpuri. Her body was first brought to her residence in Karan Vihar but because of massive protest at the house demanding justice for the woman, the body was not brought out of the ambulance. It was subsequently taken to the designated crematorium in Mangolpuri close Anjali’s grandmother’s residence where she was finally laid to rest.


    In his reporting career of over 20 years, Sanjeev K Jha has covered bureaucracy, politics, ISI activities in border areas, music and Bollywood. Presently, he covers crime in the national Capital.

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