Kin of Dr Death vic­tims dig for pics to iden­tify de­ceased

Foren­sic team asks rel­a­tives to try and find clear, close- up pho­to­graphs

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Somita Pal p_ somita@ dnain­dia. net

Vivid mem­o­ries and ac­cu­rate phys­i­cal de­scrip­tions of ‘ Dr Death’ San­tosh Pol’s vic­tims from their rel­a­tives are not good enough, foren­sic of­fi­cials have said. What the in­ves­ti­gat­ing team really wants is clear pho­to­graphs of the de­ceased.

“We have been asked to sub­mit as many pho­tos as we can of my mother, but we have only pass­port- sized ones. We are search­ing for her wed­ding pho­to­graphs now,” said Su­raj Chikne ( 25), one of the three chil­dren of Surekha. He was only 10 when she was killed.

Work­ing in Mum­bai as a tech­ni­cian, he took a leave to visit Wai in Satara district af­ter the po­lice ex­humed his mother’s body a few days back.

She was mur­dered and buried in the front yard of Pol’s house in Dhom vil­lage in 2003. His fa­ther re­mar­ried af­ter Surekha went miss­ing.

“In those days, we didn’t have cam­era phones, we hardly clicked pho­tos. Even find­ing her wed­ding pic­tures is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult,” said Nanda Wad­kar, Surekha’s sis­ter.

Vanita Gaik­wad’s fam­ily too is fac­ing the same prob­lem. Her body was ex­humed on Fri­day from Pol’s house af­ter he con­fessed to mur­der­ing her and bury­ing her in the same place in 2006.

“We have pass­port- sized pho­tos of her. The po­lice have asked us for clear close- up pic­tures and full- length pho­tos where her teeth are vis­i­ble. It will be a tough task,” said Anil Kat e, Gaik­wad’s nephew.

Gaik­wad’s hus­band died within a year of her go­ing miss­ing. Her two daugh­ters left the vil­lage and were brought up by rel­a­tives in Pune. The two will be com­ing to Wai on Sun­day to give their sam­ples for DNA match­ing and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. “Both Ar­chana, who is mar­ried, and Su­varna, a nurse, have been in­con­solable since find­ing out about their mother’s death,” added Kate.

The Wai po­lice said the prob­lem of lack of good pho­to­graphs is there only in Chikne and Gaik­wad’s cases.

Skull- photo su­per­im­po­si­tion- based iden­ti­fi­ca­tion is one of the two meth­ods that will be used by the foren­sic team for es­tab­lish­ing the iden­tity of the skele­tal re- mains. DNA match­ing will be an­other method for which blood sam­ples of the vic­tims’ sib­lings, par­ents and chil­dren will be sent to the lab for test­ing.

The fam­i­lies of Pol’s vic­tims are wait­ing for the po­lice to hand over their loved ones’ re­mains so that they can con­duct their last rites. How­ever, this will take time as, se­nior in­spec­tor Vi­nayak Ve­tal ex­plained, the re­mains can’t be handed over un­til all in­ves­ti­ga­tions are com­plete.

The foren­sic team, un­der the guid­ance of Dr Harisk Pathak, head of the foren­sic depart­ment at KEM hospi­tal, is at the site and help­ing the po­lice in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Ac­cord­ing to sources, all six bod­ies will be sent to KEM hospi­tal for foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Pol was ar­rested for al­legedly mur­der­ing at least six peo­ple be­tween 2003 and 2016. The mur­ders were com­mit­ted for loot­ing the vic­tims, or to elim­i­nate those who could spill the beans on his pre­vi­ous crimes, said the po­lice.

He­mant Padalkar/ dna

( From top) Rel­a­tives of vic­tim Surekha Chikne with the foren­sic team; Dr San­tosh Pol’s am­bu­lance that was found in Mahim on Sat­ur­day

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