Tuesday 28 Sep 2021

Review report leaves Siddhi death case wide open for police


The three-member medical committee tasked with a review of the post mortem report of teenager Siddhi Naik concluded that the death was due to drowning. The review report however does not address the larger issue of the likely circumstances that could have led to the drowning, rather it leaves the case wide open and pushes the ball back in the court of the police.

While the medical experts have stuck to the original theory of drowning, there is no conclusive evidence to establish the angle of murder as suspected by the family. The police have blood on their hands, because given the nature of this case, much was dependent on medical analysis. With the viscera not preserved, and the body allowed to be disposed of quickly, the police have lost an opportunity to dig deeper into the case. A chemical analysis of the viscera could have given vital insights into the murder angle.

With a series of police lapses, it now appears that the Siddhi Naik death case is headed towards closure as a "suicide". While justice will be denied to the family, the case once again highlights the police callousness and lack of seriousness in handling such sensitive crime cases. The handling at the crime scene, the inordinate hurry behind declaring it as a suicide, coercing the parents to reconcile with that theory coupled with a tearing hurry to close the case, shows that the law enforcement worked with a mind of their own reluctant to dive deeper into a probe.

Lest we forget, the body of British teenager Scarlett Keeling, involved in the sensational beach-side murder case in Anjuna in 2008, was not laid to rest for four years. There were a series of subsequent investigations done on her viscera, including a second post-mortem that finally gave credence to the murder angle. As against the five wound marks shown in the first post-mortem, the second autopsy showed 52 wounds. There were lessons to learn for the police because of the striking similarities to the Scarlett Keeling case. Similar to the belief that Siddhi was upset and depressed, Scarlett was learnt to have gone through a similar phase.

The police till now have failed to piece together any evidence to collaborate their theory of suicide and lay to rest reports of murder. It continues to be clueless on the semi-nude status of the body and efforts to source CCTV footage and track her movement have failed to yield results. Assurances on cracking the case have gone empty so far.

While police have been quick in cracking crime cases lately with criminals sometimes nabbed within 24 hours, it has failed miserably in the Siddhi Naik death case. On the contrary, the men in uniform have shown utter immaturity in handling such a sensitive case. The report by the medical team is by no way suggestive of a suicide. The police must accept failure, rather than try and give a false closure to a case that has shaken the conscience of the entire State.

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