Unnao: A second autopsy on the body of a 22-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly killed by Rajol Singh, the son of the late Samajwadi Party minister Fateh Bahadur Singh, has yielded results that were similar to those of the first postmortem examination. The family of the victim had demanded a second autopsy since they alleged that the first report had deliberately omitted certain details, including rape, to protect the accused.
The decomposed body of the woman, who went missing about two months ago after she allegedly went to meet Rajol Singh, was recovered on 10 February from a septic tank near an ashram built by Fateh Bahadur Singh. The first autopsy report said that she had died about six weeks prior to her body being found, which caused her family to argue that she had been missing for about two weeks longer and that the police was trying to “protect” Rajol Singh.
With mounting pressure from the family as well as opposition parties, including the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Unnao administration ordered a second autopsy.
The victim’s body was exhumed Tuesday from her grave in Unnao’s Chandanghat area in the presence of the city magistrate. Three doctors from three different medical institutions in Lucknow then conducted the second autopsy.
The autopsy report, which has been accessed by ThePrint, notes that the death took place about six weeks ago and that the victim died due to “throttling” — which is in line with the findings of the first report.
The autopsy report also mentions that the victim had head injuries and several contusions on her throat, and one on her right thigh.
Unnao Superintendent of Police (SP) Dinesh Tripathi told The Print that the findings of the two reports were almost the same, except that the second mentioned “a few more injuries”.
“It is not a major difference, as being alleged,” he said.
Assistant SP Shashi Shekhar also said that both reports indicated that strangulation was the cause of death.
The victim’s family, however, have raised objections to the second report as well, and the Congress has also joined in the clamour. The police have said that this slew of allegations about the second autopsy is baseless.
Those protesting ‘not medical experts’: Police
According to the woman’s family members, the results of the second autopsy are also doubtful.
“The administration is still trying to save Rajol. Our daughter remained missing for so many days and the report is stating that the body is 45 days old. Where was our daughter for so many days prior to her death?” the woman’s father said.
The victim’s mother also said she was suspicious that a team from Lucknow had conducted the autopsy this time, but was not available for the first post-mortem even though the family had demanded it even then.
“The administration has woken up now. Earlier, we had demanded that a team of doctors from Lucknow should carry out the autopsy, but that time no team was available. How come a team has come today?” she said.
ASP Shekhar, however, said that those who were making such allegations were “not medical experts” and that the police would conduct investigations based on the findings and statements of the doctors.
The police have also sent vaginal swabs of the victim to the forensic science laboratory in Lucknow to ascertain whether she had been raped.
While the second report does show a few more injuries than the first, ThePrint has compared both documents and observed that the findings are not remarkably different.
“The body has grown so old but still a second autopsy was ordered. In any case, rape allegations can be confirmed only after forensic analysis of the swabs,” a police source said, adding that the case had become “fuel for politics” ahead of the 23 February polls in the six assembly constituencies falling in Unnao.
The alleged crime
According to the victim’s family, the 22-year-old woman worked for a shop owned by Rajol Singh. On 8 December, the family claimed that Rajol called her repeatedly and coerced her into meeting him. She went and did not return.
Rajol Singh, who has a reputation as a local strongman, was allegedly also pressurising the woman to marry him. When she went missing, the family said they tried to lodge an FIR against Rajol Sigh but the police did not do so.
A case finally was lodged on 10 January this year after the victim’s parents went to Lucknow and threatened to commit suicide outside the office of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
On 24 January, the victim’s mother tried to jump in front of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s car in Lucknow as a gesture of protest against Rajol Singh not being arrested. The next day, the accused was taken into police custody.
More than two weeks later, on 10 February, the police recovered the woman’s body from a septic tank located near Fateh Bahadur’s Divyanand Ashram.
The controversial first autopsy
On 11 February, a medical officer from Unnao District Hospital conducted a postmortem on the woman’s body.
The autopsy report, which The Print has accessed, noted there were head injuries. The police attributed these marks to an attack using a stick. The report also said that the victim had died about six weeks prior to the body’s recovery, which her family raised questions about.
“The postmortem report mentioned one-and-a-half months — 45 days — as the possible time of death. But the body was recovered 67 days after she went missing. Where was our daughter for the remaining days?” her father said. He also alleged that the police may have known about her whereabouts for the remaining days and deliberately delayed arresting Rajol Singh to “save him”.
Another point of dispute was that the family believed that the victim had been raped but the autopsy did not mention this. The police, however, said that since the body had been in a septic tank and had decomposed, they would have to rely on “circumstantial evidence” to probe allegations of rape.
Second autopsy ordered after opposition jumped in
On the night of 13 February, the victim’s family met BSP chief Mayawati in Lucknow.
Mayawati subsequently tweeted that in addition to the Samajwadi Party leader’s son, the local police were also responsible for the crime.
1. उन्नाव में दलित युवा लडकी का अपहरण कर उसकी नृशंस हत्या के संगीन मामले में पीड़ित परिवार के लोग समुचित न्याय की तलाश में कल रात लखनऊ आकर मुझसे मिले और अपनी दुःख भरी व्यथा सुनाई, जिससे स्पष्ट है कि सपा नेता के बेटे सहित लोकल पुलिस भी पूरी तरह से इसके लिए जिम्मेदार है।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) February 14, 2022
In another tweet, she wrote: “Had Unnao police taken cognisance of the family’s complaint, the incident would not have happened. The government should dismiss the guilty officials and sent them to jail after lodging an FIR. Also, the BSP demands that the government should arrange for proper legal advocacy for the victim’s family.”
Advocate Seema Kushwaha, who fought the Nirbhaya and Hathras cases, and recently joined the BSP reached Unnao on 12 February. She also questioned the postmortem report. Those who conducted the procedure were “being influenced’ she alleged, and “powerful people” were trying to “construct” a report that suited their agenda.
“The family is demanding that a team from Lucknow… should come and the postmortem be conducted again,” she said.
As the clamour grew, the Unnao administration gave the go-ahead for a second autopsy.
Now, Congress wants third examination of the body
Following the second autopsy, the Congress too has started a protest. Since Tuesday, members of the party’s local unit have been sitting outside the Unnao District Hospital and alleging police inaction.
Supreme Court advocate and All India Professionals Congress vice-president Avani Bansal claimed that there was difference in the two post mortem reports and demanded that a medical board be constituted and the body re-examined.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi is also expected to meet the woman’s family.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)