Two Maharashtra police officers suspended over failure in gang rape and murder probe

A senior police inspector and a sub-inspector in Maharashtra’s Nandurbar district were suspended last week over a case where the body of an alleged victim of gang rape and murder had been preserved for 44 days by her family as postmortems did not establish foul play.

Police said Monday that inspector-general B G Shekhar had suspended the two officers from the Dhadgaon police station and transferred out four constables on the basis of an inquiry report submitted by superintendent of police P R Patil. The six officials were found to have “failed to perform their duties” and “left lacunas in the probe”.

The 21-year-old tribal woman was found hanging on August 1 in a hamlet 20km from her home in Nandurbar. A postmortem had ruled out foul play, but her father said the woman had been raped by four men. Police then booked an abetment-to-suicide case, but changed the charges to gang rape and murder later.

On September 15 the woman’s body was brought to the JJ Hospital in Mumbai for a second postmortem after exhuming her body from a salt pit. The forensic team from the hospital said it could not be concluded if the woman had been raped. “The body had semi-decomposed, which made it challenging to conclude if sexual assault had taken place,” said a doctor from the team.

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The family then decided to preserve the woman’s body in the salt pit until they got justice for her. Last week the body was cremated after police assured her father that strict action would be taken against the culprits.

Police said they had arrested all the accused and that they were in judicial custody.

Shiv Sena MLC Dr Neelam Gorhe had raised the issue in the Vidhan Parishad.