A hearse carrying the body of the Kamduni victim’s uncle from RG Kar hospital on Thursday.
Picture by Sanjoy Ghosh
A key witness in the Kamduni rape and murder case, an uncle of the victim, died at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital on Friday.
Doctors suspect the 45-year-old died after cardiac arrest.
The uncle had told police that he had seen the college girl minutes before she was allegedly dragged into a walled compound and raped and murdered.
He was admitted to the hospital around Thursday midnight after he complained of pain in the chest and abdomen. His relatives blamed the death on “medical negligence”.
Sources said the post-mortem report suggested that death was caused by cardiac arrest. “We have preserved the viscera in case a further test is required,” said an official of the hospital.
A section of criminal lawyers said the uncle’s death was a jolt to the prosecution. “He was a key witness and the only person with whom the victim interacted minutes before she was raped and murdered,” said a legal expert.
According to the chargesheet submitted by the CID on June 7, the victim had reached the Kamduni bus-stop around 2.30pm on her way home from college.
As it was raining, she waited under a shed at the bus-stop for 15 minutes before setting out on foot for home. Her uncle, the chargesheet stated, talked to her while she was waiting at the bus-stop.
The uncle’s name was the 17th on the list of 54 witnesses the CID had submitted in the court along with the chargesheet.
Family members alleged that the uncle had been beaten up on September 10 near the city sessions court while the police were dispersing the Kamduni villagers who had put up a roadblock.
“Blows rained on my uncle’s chest and stomach. He had been complaining of pain since returning home. Today, there was no treatment at the hospital which led to his death,” said a nephew of the deceased.
“He was shifted from the emergency ward and brought back four times. The doctors declared him dead early this morning.”
The hospital authorities said a three-member board comprising the heads of three departments was formed to find out whether the Kamduni witness’s death was caused by medical negligence. The panel has to file its report within a week.
“We have received a written complaint from the family saying medical negligence had led to the death. The letter, however, has not gone into specifics,” said Saibal Mukherjee, the medical superintendent and vice-principal of the hospital.
At the city sessions court where the Kamduni trial is on, defence counsel Phiroze Edulji on Friday opposed the state government’s petition seeking an order to conduct the rape-murder trial in-camera.
In an in-camera trial, outsiders are not allowed to attend the proceedings.
Citing a Delhi High-Court’s ruling quashing the lower court’s order for in-camera trial in the Delhi gang-rape and murder case, Edulji submitted: “Let the world know how the Indian judiciary delivers free and fair justice to everyone. Since the beginning newspapers and television channels have been doing responsible journalism. There is no point in gagging the most powerful limb of democracy.”
The public prosecutor said he would reply to Edulji’s submission on Monday.
Responding to Edulji’s petition, second additional district judge Sanchita Sarkar passed an order barring any demonstration on the court premises.