A forensic report on the young Dalit woman from Uttar Pradesh's Hathras, who died days after being assaulted by a group of men, says there were "no signs suggestive of intercourse", backing the state police's version that she was not raped or gang raped.
The report of the FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) in Agra says the samples did not contain sperm. However, experts question the report as it is based on samples collected 11 days after the assault.
The Uttar Pradesh police had claimed last Thursday that the forensic report of the 20-year-old woman's viscera had established that she was not raped or gang raped. "The post-mortem report says the victim died due to her neck injury. FSL report hasn't found sperm in samples, making it clear that some people twisted the matter to stir caste-based tension. Such people will be identified and legal action will be taken," Prashant Kumar, a senior UP police officer, had said.
The woman's samples were sent to the forensic lab in Agra 11 days after incident and experts point that sperms would not be present by that time.
Her samples were collected on September 22 at a hospital in Aligarh. On the same day, the woman had already recorded her statement from her hospital bed, as confirmed by the UP police. Experts believe that the statement is equally important in the investigation. The samples were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory in Agra three day later, on September 25, according to the forensic report.
Doctors at Aligarh Muslim University's (AMU's) Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College have questioned the forensic report, stressing that it is only one part of the investigation. They pointed out that there will be a difference in the test result when a sample is tested soon after collecting and when it is tested after 11 days.
The woman's statement recorded at the Aligarh hospital holds equal weight in law and is even more significant now that she is dead, they said.
Dr Hamza Malik, president of the Resident Doctor's Association of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, said, "The Agra report cannot confirm or deny rape . Regardless of the presence of sperm or not, it is only an investigation. The ultimate confirmation or denial will be in a court. Many aspects of the investigation will be placed before the court. The court should take suo motu cognizance of the ADG Law and Order's statement and initiate action against him. He cannot make statements like this. I want to say that neither the FSL report nor an autopsy, or an MLC (medico legal case) can prove or disprove anything concrete. This is all proof that a court will evaluate."
When asked how important the victim's statement recorded in Aligarh is, the doctor said, "That statement is called a dying declaration under Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act, and (is taken when) a magistrate and a medical officer are present . This is valid in court and will be used as proof."
The woman had been assaulted by four men from the so-called upper caste community from her village on September 14. She was found by her family in the fields, allegedly naked, bleeding, with multiple fractures and a gash in her tongue. The police claimed her tongue was cut because she bit it while her attackers were trying to strangle her.
The UP police, facing allegations of lapses in handling the woman's complaint, has been accused of being invested in proving that there was no gang rape, that the woman and her family had lied. The family alleges that they have been threatened and intimidated by the administration.
Amid national outrage and opposition attacks, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath last week suspended three cops and handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The new Superintendent of Police of Hathras said security arrangements have been made for the woman's family, after Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who met family on Sunday, said they were feeling unsafe and that they wanted to move out of the village. "All necessary steps have been taken by the police in connection with the security of this family. PAC personnel are camping 24 hours outside their home. The victim's brother is being protected by two security personnel 24 hours. Sufficient number of police personnel has been posted in the village. They are on duty 24 hours. Because there are women in the family, two women-sub inspectors and six women constables have been posted near the home," police officer Vineet Jaiswal said.
Yogi Adityanath's government has been facing huge criticism over the case since the woman's death last Tuesday. The UP police move to shift the body from a Delhi hospital disregarding her grief stricken family's appeals, has played out on national media. A 2:30 am cremation by cops in the absence of any family member of the woman was widely reported and has provoked shock and outrage.