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Conducting an Inquest for The First Time
|by Prof. Arundhati Sarkar|
I was posted as an Executive Magistrate about ten years ago in a district town of West Bengal. I was pretty excited when the SDM ordered to conduct an inquest on the dead body of a lady who had died an unnatural death within seven years of her marriage.
I was taken by the man in charge of the hospital morgue (called 'Dom' in the local language) to the morgue. All dead bodies were strewn around the room. The Dom and his associate were throwing bodies from one end of the room to the other. That was their way of arranging corpses. I had almost blurted out "Do not throw them! They will be hurt!" when I realized with a shock that I was in the world of the dead. The dead body was shown to me (and identified by her sobbing father) and I said that I would examine her entire body including her private parts in broad daylight to ascertain clearly her injury marks.
There were bloodstains on the floor of the morgue and an obnoxious smell pervaded the room. I said that I would like to examine the corpse in the open. The Dom complied unwillingly. He brought a big knife with which he would cut her blouse and her sari. Suddenly I noticed a strange thing. Many curious onlookers had perched themselves on the boundary wall of the hospital.
I brought the matter to the notice of the Dom who chased them away saying "Hey, idiots, don't you have mothers and sisters at home?" The onlookers jumped on the other side of the wall and could no longer be seen. I completed the formalities and found thick crisscross marks of a possible strangulation around her neck. Again the face of some trespassers could be seen on the boundary wall and this time the police chased them away.
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04/27/2012 22:26 PM