A hot potato in a heating up political cauldron in the run-up to the Assembly elections, the mysterious death of the teenaged Nachinola lass Siddhi Naik, has gone off the radar just 18 months later for Goa’s politicos, self-proclaimed ‘social-activists’ and scores of social-media driven citizen journalists.
For the police, however, it has become just another one among dozens of other unsolved cases listed as “under investigation” but where not much of a headway has been made.
For her family, however, the loss continues to haunt them, more so because despite the passage of eighteen long months, they are yet to find any closure in terms of unravelling the mystery behind her death, leave alone get justice of any sort. Her father, Sandeep Naik, is seething with anger. And understandably so.
Calangute Police initially registered the case as unnatural death after the autopsy report indicated that the girl died of drowning and there was no evidence of sexual assault or violence. But four months later owing to pressure from the deceased teen’s family and opposition parties, police registered the case as murder. The investigation in the case was finally handed over to the Crime Branch days before the assembly polls.
A senior police officer in the Crime Branch informed that the case was under investigation refusing to elaborate any further.
Police role under scanner
The news of the teenager’s death gained much attention not only because of the mysterious circumstances that led to the discovery of the young girl’s body on the beach, but the chain of events that followed where the role of police came under intense scrutiny.
The teen’s body was found on the Calangute beach in the wee hours of the day, the autopsy report came by noon and by evening the body was handed over to the family and cremated.
Naturally, allegations flew thick and fast that the police were in a tearing hurry to hush up the matter and close the case.
Since the body was found in mysterious circumstances and there were several loose ends it was bounden duty of the police to preserve the body at least for a day. Police also did not find it fit to preserve the viscera for further investigation.
Politicians take up cudgels
The mysterious death of the teenager happened six months before the scheduled assembly election in the State giving a handle to the opposition parties to point fingers at the ruling BJP government. Politicians from the opposition parties made a beeline to the residence of the deceased girl in Nachinola and promised every possible help to the family to get justice. Several social activists also joined the bandwagon and offered help to the distraught family. However, soon after the elections ended everyone forgot about Siddhi Naik and her family.
“They came to our house, sat with us and promised to help us to get justice for my daughter. Where are they now? Nobody is in touch with me. No one…,” Sandeep Naik, the deceased girl’s father sobbed.
Stark resemblance to Scarlett case
The entire episode brought back haunting memories of the Scarlett Keeling episode, when the 15-year-old British girl was found partially clothed on Anjuna beach in 2008 as was Siddhi Naik when her body was found unclad on the Calangute beach on August 12, 2021.
Just like in the Siddhi Naik’s case, Goa Police in 2008 had claimed that Scarlett Keeling’s death was due to drowning and therefore suicide. After immense social and political pressure, Goa Police later registered the case as culpable homicide following a second autopsy, which revealed that the girl was drugged and raped.
The probe was later handed over to the CBI on repeated pleas made by Scarlett’s family even as the Goa Police was accused of trying to “hush up” the case.
But in the case of the death of the Nachinola teenager there was no scope of conducting a second autopsy as the body was cremated soon after her post-mortem report ruled out sexual assault and physical violence.