The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Boy body exhumed

Siliguri, May 24: The administration had to bow to public outcry today as Siliguri, for the first time, witnessed the exhumation of a corpse. The body of six-and-a-half-year-old Sarfaraz was exhumed 15 days after his burial.

The boy’s family had lodged an FIR with the police on May 17, accusing six employees, including four doctors of the Siliguri sub-divisional hospital, for “negligence in his treatment”.

As mentioned in the death certificate, Sarfaraz had died of septicemia (infection of blood) on May 10.

Based on the FIR, police have registered a case under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code, a charge of culpable homicide.

The exhumation took place around 1 pm today in the presence of a judicial magistrate, the members of the boy’s family and the police. The corpse has been sent to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital for a post-mortem.

The process — scheduled to start at 10 am — got delayed when news of the exhumation reached the residents of Jhankar More near the Karbala burial ground.

The community initially pondered over the idea of digging up the corpse, which the shariat does not permit. But after a series of discussions with the mufti at Patna and the imams of the local mosques, a decision was taken to proceed.

“In view of a larger social interest, we decided to permit the exhumation. Though it is strictly prohibited in Islamic law, this can be done under special circumstances,” said imams Abdul Matin Ashrafi and Anwarul Haq of Karbala Masjid and Siliguri Jamma Masjid respectively.

But the decision led to a public outburst of distrust and apprehensions were expressed over the “transparency” of the investigation process.

“We are not very confident as to how much justice would be done to us. They can bend and twist the facts if they want. But we want the truth to come out. At least this can save many other Sarfarazs’ from meeting the same fate,” both imams told the crowd.

The investigating officer, A.C. Roy, arrived at the spot with judicial magistrate Sunita Mitra Deb around 12.30 pm. Sarfaraz’s body was identified by his family members in the presence of Deb and Roy.

Detailing the process to be followed after the exhumation, Siliguri additional district magistrate S.. Bhagat said: “We have ordered a judicial inquest in the case. Following an FIR lodged by the deceased’s family, a case under Section 304 of the IPC was registered by the police.”

“Section 304 amounts to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The inquest in such cases has three steps. It will see if there is any injury in the deceased’s body. In case of any injury, they have to ascertain what kind of instrument was used to make that injury. Then the apparent cause of death will be declared,” he added.

Talking to The Telegraph on the latest development the additional superintendent of police, Siliguri, Rajeev Mishra said: “The investigation is taking its own course. The post mortem was carried out and the body of the deceased was re-buried after it. We have already started to record the statements of the Fir named. based on the facts we will ascertain if the allegation amounts to the charges.”

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