Peerbagh Murder: Unprofessional handling by police ‘messed up evidence’

Peerbagh Murder: Unprofessional handling by police ‘messed up evidence’

SRINAGAR: Non-professional approach of the police in investigating the murder case of Peerbagh youth, Owaise Bashir Malik has led to many unanswered questions. Police failed to establish if the youth was killed where his body was found or somewhere else, before it was dumped on the railway track. The reason: forensic experts were not called to the spot where the body was recovered.
Doctors who conducted an autopsy on the victim, a 22-year-old engineering student, told Kashmir Reader that forensic experts were not called to the spot. “Ideally, forensic experts should be the first people to touch the body and thus should be called to the spot first. This helps in scientific investigation of the case,” they said.
In this particular case, forensic experts were called in only when the doctors at district hospital Budgam refused to conduct the autopsy without their presence.
A specialist in the field, wishing anonymity, told Kashmir Reader, “Had they called us when the body was found, we could have taken the blood samples from the spot and matched them with the blood samples of the deceased to establish if he was murdered on the tracks or his body was thrown there after killing him somewhere else. Now, this is a debatable question whether they (police) didn’t call us deliberately or they didn’t find it necessary.”
He said that because of the unprofessional approach of the police, they are left with no evidence to prove their version of the story: “Now they are butchering sheep to corroborate their claims.”
Normally, forensic experts along with a police team visit the scene of a crime and in a technical and scientific way collect the evidence from the spot, document it and preserve it as per the code of standards. “But in Kashmir, forensic experts are rarely called to the spot of crime,” he added.
Another forensic doctor told Kashmir Reader, “Ideally, the spot of the crime has to be sealed. Nobody should be allowed to visit the scene except for police and forensic experts. But here, people trample all over the spot first and forensic doctors are called in only if police so desires. And in all this mess, the evidence is lost.”
Experts say that in this particular case, police have messed up the investigation. “They don’t know the basic techniques of carrying a dead body. Police is searching for evidence now, since they don’t have any. This is proved by the fact that they butchered a sheep to corroborate their theory,” they said.
Mohammad Abdullah Pandita, a criminal lawyer told Kashmir Reader: “This has been very unprofessional behavior from the police. The day they found the body, they should have called forensic experts first. The doctors could have conducted the post mortem on the spot. They could have taken the blood samples on the spot and established the location where he was killed. In such cases, forensic experts are called first. I don’t know why the police did not find it appropriate to call them.”
Head of Department, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Dr Farida Noor said, “Ideally, forensic doctors should be called to the place of crime, but here we don’t have such system. Police visit the spot and if they feel they need our expertise, then only they approach us. But in a majority of cases, we have seen that police handles the body in a very unprofessional way which later leads to the distortion of facts.”
“A forensic expert knows how physical evidence is collected and shifted to the laboratory. Then documentation of the evidence is important. Photographs, written notes and other diagrams taken by experts are used in the court of law. Most importantly, evidences need to be handled in a very professional way so that they are not distorted,” Farida said, adding that it was very important to follow the procedure to establish the case before the court.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Javed Gilani however doesn’t agree with the forensic experts. “It’s not possible to take forensic doctors to every crime scene because they are understaffed. And also it’s not true that police is not trained. They are given training and it’s a part of their job,” he told Kashmir Reader.
When asked about the Peerbagh murder case and how the police handled it, Gilani said, “Police knows what they are doing; people don’t know anything (sic).”

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