Post-mortem exposes hollowness of police probe in Phogat case


The death of BJP leader and actress Sonali Phogat has taken a sensational turn and exposed the hollowness of State investigation into high-profile cases. An "unnatural death" case has now turned into a murder probe, and the post-mortem report has left the police red-faced.

The case brings back the horrific images of the Scarlett Keeling rape and murder of 2008. On February 18 that year, Scarlett's body was found on the beach, and police were quick to register it as a case of drowning. The case subsequently took a 360-degree turn, with post-mortems exposing what the police were trying to cover up. After a sustained investigation forced upon by the family, it finally came to light that Scarlett had suffered multiple injuries and was drugged and raped before she died on the shore.

Cut into the Phogat case, and it is appalling that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant declares it to be "prima facie" a case of cardiac arrest even before the post-mortem report is out. By no figment of imagination can such a sensitive case be assessed and concluded.

The direction of the probe in the case was as clear as daylight here because even before the post-mortem was out, police concluded that there was no evidence to suggest it was murder. The post-mortem report says that Phogat's body had multiple blunt injuries. Forensic experts have revealed that these injuries were caused six to twelve hours prior to her death. It is also revealed that the link of injuries to her death cannot be ruled out.

The trail of events on that fateful night that eventually led to her death is suspicious enough to any eye and calls for a thorough probe. Even if a cardiac arrest is believed to be an immediate cause, the probe should have focussed on the reasons behind such a death, against the background that even a cardiac arrest can be induced; let's not forget the drug angle. The callousness with which this was approached raises strong suspicion of a cover-up attempt to close the case prematurely.

The Phogat case has now made national and international headlines more because of the lopsided approach of the State investigation team. If Goa is to be projected as the tourism capital of India, this is the least that is expected. Our police and investigation machinery should be up and running, searching in and out for every piece of evidence.

Goa's coastal belt holds the notorious distinction of being the hub of narcotics, and that's no secret. Phogat's family had accused two of her accomplices of drugging, blackmailing, and repeatedly raping her. These are serious charges that are compounded by what was seen in photos and viral videos at the Anjuna shack.

Such delinquencies in investigating cases have only resulted in a lack of trust in our policing system. This is why people feel justice is not being done to them, like in the case of the Nachinola girl who went missing and was found dead on the beach in a semi-nude state. Sadly, lessons from past failures have not been learned.

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