The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doctors smell foul play in lone injury

New Delhi, Oct. 8: Rizwanur Rahman’s fatal head injury seems inconsistent with suicide on the tracks and suggests “foul play”, according to doctors who deal with train-hit bodies almost every day.

For a head injury, Rizwanur would have had to arch his body forwards or sideways so that only his head was exposed to an oncoming train, said Akash Jhanjee, a forensic doctor at the Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital in New Delhi.

The exact sequence of events in Rizwanur’s final moments remains unclear, but Jhanjee and other forensic experts said the computer graphics teacher’s injuries — as described by eyewitnesses — make suicide appear unlikely.

Suicides on tracks typically have grisly outcomes, they said.

“We see traumatic decapitation of the head, or traumatic bisection of the trunk,” said Jhanjee, who has spent virtually every working day over the past four years examining bodies picked up from railway tracks around Delhi.

“We see multiple fractures, crush injuries and lacerations, sometimes the body is shattered... body parts get stuck to the train and go missing. A single head injury points to foul play,” Jhanjee said.

“A head injury alone in suicide would be really strange. Our experience suggests that people stand or jump in front of trains or lie down on tracks,” said Shailesh Mohite, a doctor at the Topiwala National Medical College, Mumbai.

“The body is then dragged, and there would be evidence of the stones on the tracks causing impact injuries in the form of abrasions,” said Mohite, who has seen nearly 2,000 train-strike victims over the past eight years.

There are conflicting versions about the injuries on Rizwanur’s body. The post-mortem report, which said the head injury caused death, has claimed his skull was smashed and there were bruises on his arms and chest. But eyewitnesses, including his brother Rukbanur, have said he had suffered only the head injury.

“A single injury to the head could in principle have occurred had the contact between the train and the body led to the body being hurled away,” said B. Suresh Kumar Shetty, an assistant professor of forensic medicine at the Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore.

An attempt to insert the head between two bogies as the train was moving could also explain such a head injury, said another forensic doctor in Mumbai.

But a body thrown away in this manner and falling back on tracks would also have associated injuries resulting from the impact with stones laid out on the tracks, Shetty said.

He said such an impact was likely to result in pressure abrasions and contusions — rupture of tiny blood vessels under the skin without external bleeding.

“I’ve never encountered a railway track suicide with a single head injury — but that doesn’t mean it could never happen,” Shetty said.

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