If the Sheena Bora murder case raised doubts over the apathy of cops in trying to trace the origins of bodies found in and around the city, a case that's recently come up at the Bombay High Court should prove it. On July 8, 2014, a Dahisar family reported their son missing and lodged a complaint at the local MHB police station.
Missing youth Nasim Shaikh
Three days later, villagers at Mathane, touching the Kelwa seashore, reported that decomposed bodies of two men had washed ashore. They reported this to the local cops who then conducted the panchnama and buried the bodies near the sea shore, as is normal practice. On August 6, 2014, Police Inspector Suryavanshi (first name not mentioned in petition) of Kelwa Sagari Police Station informed Anusuya Gaud, the elder sister of Nasim Shaikh, the missing 21-year-old, about the bodies, adding that one with a description of clothes that matched her brother's had been found. Though a DNA test was conducted, it proved inconclusive. Now, here's where the problem begins.
MHB police station in Borivli where the missing complaint was lodged closed its investigation stating that as the body — which is still unidentified — was found in Kelwa police station jurisdiction on July 11, 2014, the missing complaint investigation has, therefore, come to an end.
Kelwa police, however, state that as the DNA report from Kalina's Forensic Science Laboratory received in January 2015 could not match the DNA with Nasim's parents, they have closed their investigation as well.
Father Rafiq Shaikh
So, where is Nasim?
Nasim is the third among four children. His sister, Anusuya who works at the Bombay Stock Exchange, says he was studying BCom in the second year at the time he went missing. A correspondence student, he would help his father Rafiq Shaikh run a paper pulp manufacturing unit at Bhiwandi.
In a writ petition that the family filed at the high court in October 2014, the family says that it last saw him on July 8, 2014. "He left the house to meet his friends and returned at 10 pm to keep the motorcycle keys back. He then left home again. At midnight when one of my sisters phoned him, he said he was at Kandarpada Bridge in Dahisar with a friend called Rupesh. Until then we had never heard of this friend, but Nasim said he would return home shortly. The next morning, when we realised he still hadn't returned, we started searching for him all over," says Anusuya. The family traced the said Rupesh, who said that while he had spent some time with Nasim, it was only for a couple of hours.
While the family filed a missing complaint at the local MHB police station, its own probe into Nasim's life revealed that he had at the time been in a romantic relationship with a 21-year-old Hindu woman from the neighbourhood whose father did not approve of her relationship with a Muslim man.
In its petition, the Shaikhs have alleged that a day before Nasim went missing, he had been threatened with dire consequences by the girlfriend's father, asking him to refrain from continuing the relationship. The petition further says that on July 8, at 10 pm Nasim met his girlfriend at Dahisar railway station and spent two hours with her. Call records also show that Nasim was in touch with a cousin of his girlfriend over the phone that night. Anusuya adds that the girlfriend has moved from the area.
Mother Hamsha Shaikh
Botched up investigation
"If both police stations have closed their investigation, the question still remains — where is Nasim? And why has no effort been made by the cops to search for him? We have therefore moved a criminal writ petition in the Bombay High Court seeking probe in the matter," says advocate Dinesh Tiwari who is representing the Shaikhs. He adds that the matter is being heard by the division bench of Justice RN Samant and Justice SS Shinde, who have instructed the police to reopen the case and exhume the two bodies found on the seashore to conduct a better probe.
"Nasim's family suspects he has been killed over a love affair," Tiwari adds.
He does trace the poor DNA match back to the fact that the Kelwa Sagari police station's poor treatment of the dead bodies. "It is unfortunate that the local police did not bother to preserve both the bodies in the mortuary till the relatives of the deceased were traced and the bodies identified. They instead buried the bodies on the shore the same day after registering an accidental case under 174 of Criminal Procedure Code."
The advocate adds that the family also plans to write to the MHB police and the Tehsildar requesting that a team of forensic surgeons from Grant Medical College be present during the exhumation of the bodies found that day and that a proper re-post-mortem is conducted to ascertain the cause of death even as the entire procedure is videographed. "It will be crucial to know the cause of death once the identity of the deceased is known," he adds.
The Kalina FSL report stating "no amplifiable DNAâÂÂwas obtained" from the samples given in 2014
Cops and protocols
Since 2014, there's been a change of guard at Kelwa police station. Assistant Police Inspector Siddhawa Jaybhaye, who has recently taken charge, says, "I was summoned by Bombay High Court on September 4 and I studied about the case, as it happened before I took charge. I have assured full cooperation to assist the petitioner in ensuring that the deceased identity be established."
On why the bodies were not preserved in a mortuary, she says, "Both bodies were coincidentally found near the shore, touching Mathane village on the same day (July 11, 2014). As they were highly decomposed, we followed our routine practice and the tehsildar was summoned along with a local medical officer from the rural hospital, who concluded that death was due to drowning. And the bodies were buried at place close to the shore after conducting panchama."
GK Pashte, Nayab Tehsildar from Palghar, says, "We are ready to postpone the exhumation of the corpse. If the family insist that they wanted a re-post mortem to be conducted and a team of forensic experts from Grant medical college has to do it, we have no problem. This time, we will conduct the exhumation, and recording the details in-camera and panchama will be done under section 176 instead of 174 of the CrPC."
How it should have been done