The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A case for second post-mortem

The CID has promised to solve the mystery over Rizwanur Rahman’s death by next week, when it submits its final report. Although CID officers were tight-lipped about the findings, sources in the department have told The Telegraph the report will conclude Rizwanur had committed suicide.

The CID says it will take into account the statements of a large number of people as well as circumstantial evidence, but the report will hinge critically on the post-mortem findings.

Discussions with forensic experts, however, have revealed that the process followed during Rizwanur’s post-mortem — and the environment in which it was carried out — were inadequate if not flawed (See below).

So, exhumation of the body and a second post-mortem are necessary to solve the mystery. Rizwanur’s family yesterday suggested that to the chief minister and he promised to ensure exhumation within a day once a magistrate gave permission.

Such permission is routinely given if the state government makes a request.

The available information on the contents of the post-mortem report, and the process that led to its preparation, suggests the government should immediately file a request for exhumation.

Details about the post-mortem:

Date and place

On September 22 in the police morgue at NRS Medical College and Hospital

Done by

Dr S. Batabyal of the hospital’s forensic medicine department, with the help of doms


Confidential, but The Telegraph has been told about some of the key findings:

A running train hit Rizwanur and killed him

Deep injury marks at the back of the head

Some injury marks around the shoulders and elbows

Head partially severed and loosely attached to body

Ideal environment

A morgue should be as clean as an operation theatre, forensic expert A.K. Gupta said. “The norms say a post-mortem should be carried out in almost the same atmosphere as that in which surgery is done on a living person.”

To ensure this:

Bodies should be preserved at 4°C

Dissection hall and surrounding rooms should be air-conditioned

Powerful lights should be provided over the dissection tables

Hall should be clean with adequate water supply

Ideal process

A few basic steps:

Get a thorough inquest report from police

Take pictures, close-up and from a distance

Note internal and external injuries — their position, size, depth and direction

Videotape the post-mortem examination in controversial cases

Carry out histological (tissue) and chemical examination whenever required

Preserve the viscera

Visit the spot where body was found and examine tracks and the rake that supposedly hit the body

Gaps in Rizwan case

Inquest report not available

No pictures taken

Post-mortem not videotaped

Spot not visited, rake and tracks not examined

Flaws at morgue

Temperature not maintained at 4°C at NRS morgue

Lights inadequate

Cleanliness inadequate

Doctors overburdened. A single doctor handles most of the 4,000 bodies, at an average of 13 bodies each working day. Sometimes, a second doctor helps out

Dr Gupta, the forensic expert, said the post-mortem infrastructure was inadequate. “I had asked for changes last year as an MD examiner, but it seems nothing has been done,” he said. “I had spoken to a doctor who confessed he had carried out 10 post-mortems in two hours. That works out to 12 minutes for each body. When I asked him how, he fumbled for an answer.”

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