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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: With the baby steps on Tuesday, the SIT-led investigation into the Nayagarh minor murder case has hit the ground running. But a bumpy road lies ahead for SIT chief IGP Arun Bothra(of Patnagarh parcel bomb case fame) in Nayagarh. Unlike the Patnagarh blast case, the Corpus delecti – body of crime, though not necessarily mean the dead body, is grossly missing in Nayagarh.

In Patnagarh, Bothra had the parcel box. But the uphill task for the SIT in Nayagrah is, it has to join the ‘bones of crime’ to draw a sketch of the body of the crime.

Because, law stipulates that the prosecution has to pass the ‘Corpus delecti’ test. And as a coroner, IGP Arun Bothra has to unearth the cause of death. Since it’s a missing body case, the SIT has to rely only on circumstantial evidences to nail the accused.

It’s piecing the circumstantial evidences together, which is exactly a challenging task for SIT. Because, in investigation what one lacks is time. With every passing hour, the evidences slip away. SIT reached the ground zero nearly 4-months after  incident occurred on July 14 this year.

How Nayagarh Police Missed the Golden Hour?

In any kidnapping or missing case, the golden hour is the first 72 hours from the time of the filing of the compliant. This is considered the best time to collect leads. Moreover, as per NCRB analysis, in cases of child kidnapping/missing, the case record details show a high chance of a child victim getting killed within 3-48 hours. Taking this fact into account, the country’s Apex Court in its ruling on missing/kidnapped children case, had made it mandatory for the law enforcement agencies to register FIR and launch investigation immediately.

In the Pari murder case at Nayagarh, skeletal remains of the minor girl was discovered at the backyard of victim’s house nine days after she went missing. More so, the police had questioned as many as 9 persons during the 4-month period, but failed to make any arrest till date. The clear cut SOP laid down by the SC and the flip-flops by Nayagarh police together point at lackadaisical crime investigation by the Nayagarh police.

The Evidence:The suspect/s had successfully disposed of the body, which has given rise to further suspicion that footprints of many key clues could have also been made to disappear.

SIT Hands Tied Now?

In his maiden reaction, post visiting ground zero, a reticent Arun Bothra following his talks with the victim’s parents, told the media, “I can’t say anything now. Will speak to you only at an appropriate time.”

According to senior lawyer Nishikant Mahapatra, in Pari murder case, facts unambiguously point to a death that has occurred by a criminal act, and the bone remains can tell the date of death also.“ SIT has only to identify the actor behind the criminal act,” he says.

So how will the SIT proceed? Electronic footprints will be clincher in such cases, he explained. Bothra and his team need to zero in on the CDR (call detail records) of the suspects in the case. Besides, the SIT has to also  note down the last sightings of the victim, persons having proximity to victim, relationship and contact list of the victim and her parents, and lastly, the electronic transaction details of the suspects.

Why Organ trade motive pops up?

As per senior lawyers, in such missing body cases, the body as a whole is dumped or disposed of to destroy evidence. In this sensitive case, discovery of bone-stuffed gunny bag hints at the destruction of the body not by burning, which then further hints at the possible use of chemicals to destroy the corpus. “The chemical clean-up act by the accused points to the larger motive behind destroying the body. They were not afraid of letting know the victim’s parent that Pari was killed, but did everything to destroy victim’s body. The fear of the body hints at possible motive of organ trade”, Mahapatra added.

Will SIT achieve any breakthrough?

Speaking exclusively to Odishatv.in, former DGP Bipin Behari Mishra said, “I am least hopeful in this case.” He further added that Nayagarh police had already wasted the golden hour. ”Now the SIT can collect circumstantial evidences from the last sightings (of the victim) and persons known to her,” he explained.

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