SRINAGAR: Forensic experts have questioned the police account into the death of 22-year-old engineering student Owais Bashir Malik of Peerbagh whose body was found near the railway track in Peerbagh on January 14, saying it was a case of homicide that needed a thorough investigation.
On January 19, top police officers told a press conference that Owais had died in a scuffle with a youngster, Ishaan, whom he had befriended on Facebook. The police theory was that the two had fallen in love and Ishaan would talk like a girl (his Facebook account name was Umaira) not only with Owais but his family members as well.
However, the two came to blows when, during their first meeting on January 12, Owais realised that he had been conned into this ‘relationship’ by a boy. During the scuffle, police said, Owais fell and his head hit some hard object, causing his death.
The murder had triggered massive demonstrations in the area, with many protesters saying the deceased had been tortured. Their apprehensions were based on the fact that flesh on Owais’s chest had been torn apart, which police attributed to stray dogs.
However, forensic experts at the Department of Government Medical College have picked holes in the police report.
Kashmir Reader has found that Owais’s body had been sent for post mortem to the district hospital Budgam. However, the doctors had refused to conduct the autopsy and advised the police to have the forensic experts do the same.
Forensic experts from the Government Medical College, Srinagar, and a few doctors from the health department conducted the post mortem at the Panthachowk mortuary.
“We compiled a preliminary report in which we mentioned that the death has been caused by fatal bleeding. While police claimed that Owais’s body had been mutilated by dogs we ruled out the involvement of dogs in the whole case,” said a forensic expert, who was part of the autopsy team, on condition of anonymity.
“In our report we said that there are burn marks on thighs. The marks seemed to have been caused by a box-like thing. Owais’s pants had been taken off when these marks had been inflicted on him because the pants were not torn,” he added.
About the exposed chest of the victim, the preliminary findings say that his ribs had been fractured and his chest was completely exposed.
“It seems as if the chest had been cut with a knife. Dogs feeding on a corpse cannot make such clean and tidy cuts. And if at all dogs had bitten the body they would have attacked other body parts as well. There were no marks of dog’s teeth on the body. Also his right arm and right ear had been chopped off. It seemed a well planned murder,” the expert said.
Another expert said that the findings of the preliminary report had been conveyed to the police, but “it is beyond our understanding why police told a different story to the media”.
Ishaan and three railway police constables had been arrested in connection with the murder. The constables had found Owais’s body but, fearing they would be pulled up for lax patrolling, dragged his body and dumped it at some distance away from the scene of the ‘crime’. The dragging of the body, police had claimed, created scratch marks on his back.
Forensic experts, however, say there were neither injury marks on the back of the head, nor scratches on his back. They also ruled out that the fall could have caused the death.
A final report by the forensic department is ready and they are expected to hand it over to the authorities concerned in a couple of days.
“In our final report we have described it as a homicide and backing our previous reports with more findings. This will make it clear that whatever we have said in preliminary report is true. It is up to the police how they investigate the matter,” the expert said.