Find­ing Prad­hyumn’s killer: A test of CBI’s foren­sic skills

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - Neeraj.Chauhan@ times­group.com

New Delhi: The CBI has been en­trusted with the probe into the mur­der of seven-year-old Prad­hyumn Thakur at Ryan In­ter­na­tional School (Bhondsi) in Gur­gaon, again putting to test the agency’s skills in in­ves­ti­gat­ing heinous crimes.

The CBI’s prow­ess in foren­sic ev­i­dence anal­y­sis will be bol­stered by hav­ing at its dis­posal ex­perts from Cen­tral Foren­sic Sci­ence Lab­o­ra­tory, Cen­tre for DNA Finger­print­ing and Di­ag­nos­tics and doc­tors from AIIMS who will help it draw out the se­quence of events lead­ing to the death of Prad­hyumn, the weapon used for his mur­der, and the ex­act time of the crime. In its at­tempt to find out whether it was ac­tu­ally the school bus con­duc­tor Ashok Ku­mar — ar­rested as the main sus­pect by Gur­gaon po­lice — who killed the boy with a kitchen knife af­ter try­ing to sex­u­ally as­sault him, the CBI can use sci­en­tific tests like liede­tec­tion, narco-anal­y­sis and psy­cho-anal­y­sis tests on the sus­pect.

Known for re-cre­at­ing a crime scene sci­en­tif­i­cally and me­thod­i­cally, the CBI is also ca­pa­ble of find­ing loop­holes in the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion, dis­crep­an­cies in state­ments and cover-ups, if any, by the school ad­min­is­tra­tion through these tests, apart from ques­tion­ing the staff, teach­ers and man­age­ment.

All of this is likely to come into play in Prad­hyumn’s mur­der probe as well, but af­ter the cen­tral govern­ment is­sues a no­ti­fi­ca­tion for a for­mal CBI probe. The fed­eral probe agency has ex­ten­sively used these tools in the last 10 years and man­aged to un­earth in­for­ma­tion in the mur­der case of Aarushi Tal­war — daugh­ter of den­tist cou­ple Ra­jesh and Nupur in Noida; the killing of Sheena Bora, al­legedly by her mother In­drani Muk- her­jea in Mum­bai, the sen­sa­tional mur­der of Bhan­wari Devi in Ra­jasthan; sui­cides of two sis­ters in Badaun, and many other po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive cases.

In fact, in the mur­der of Bhan­wari Devi in 2011, in which for­mer Ra­jasthan MLA Mahipal Maderna was ar­rested, CBI had used drones to trace her re­mains in­side a thick for­est and even used FBI’s foren­sic ex­perts for DNA match­ing.

Even though some of its in­ves­ti­ga­tions have faced crit­i­cism at times, CBI ex­perts claim that its ev­i­dence col­lec­tion goes through sev­eral steps of scru­tiny. In such cases, where it is brought to rec­tify a botched-up in­ves­ti­ga­tion, CBI usu­ally forms a small spe­cial team, which ded­i­cates its ef­forts to one par­tic­u­lar case and sleuths are given dif­fer­ent roles. A CBI of­fi­cer, who has worked in spe­cial crimes di­vi­sion in the agency for years, said, “We don’t go for ar­rests un­til we are sat­is­fied all ev­i­dence points to that per­son’s role.”

Another of­fi­cer said that while CBI is al­ready an ex­pert in in­ves­ti­gat­ing po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion, fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and cy­ber­crimes over the decades, it is slowly at­tain­ing ex­per­tise in solv­ing com­plex mur­der cases as well. The agency man­ages to se­cure con­vic­tion in around 66% cases ev­ery year, both anti-cor­rup­tion and heinous crimes.

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