DeathProthom Alo illustration

Police recovered a dead body of a fifth grader from a house in the capital’s Kadamtali area on 31 December 2019. At first police thought that she committed suicide and a case of unnatural death was lodged.

However, some eight months later, the autopsy reports revealed different information. According to the autopsy report, the schoolgirl did not commit suicide. She was strangled to death after being raped. After such a report, the case of unnatural filed over the incident was converted into a murder case. However, the police are yet to identify the accused in this incident.

According to the figures of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), a total of 4,360 cases of unnatural death have been filed in between January 2019 to December 2021. Of them, police have confirmed suicide as the reason of death in 1,962 cases. However, police are not confirmed about the reason of death in the remaining 2,398 cases.

The police officials say that a case of unnatural death is recorded when there is no information of instigation to commit suicide. In case of suicide, most of the families do not want to conduct a post-mortem on the deceased. They do not want to file any complaint against anybody either. However, according to the law, post-mortem is mandatory in all the cases of unnatural death. If the post-mortem report reveals a different reason of death, police takes it as a murder case.

In the case of the schoolgirl of Kadamtali area, police have brought allegations of non-cooperation against the family. Prothom Alo spoke to the father of that schoolgirl on 20 March. When he was informed over the phone that the post-mortem report has revealed that his daughter was killed after being raped, he said he has no complaint against anyone. He also claimed that the real information did not come up in the post-mortem report. He didn’t want to talk about this after so long.

The Kadamtali police station falls under the Wari Zone of DMP. Speaking to Prothom Alo, deputy commissioner of DMP’s Wari zone, Shah Iftekhar Ahmed said that they couldn’t solve the case due to non-cooperation of the deceased’s family and lack of evidence. They went to the house of the victim several times. However, the family members do not want to reveal any information. They don’t want the police to investigate the matter either.

Important to know the reason of death

Police recovered a body of an unidentified youth from the Hatirjheel lake on 14 January last year. An unnatural death case was filed over this incident. However, four months after the incident, the autopsy report revealed that he was strangled to death. Police identified the deceased as Sadman Rafi. He was a student of a university in Malaysia. He returned to the country after the coronavirus outbreak. He was from the Bashundhara residential area in Dhaka.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Sadman’s mother Monowara Hossain said her son grew up in Saudi Arabia. Later, he went to Malaysia for higher studies. He did not have any close friends in the country. He went missing after leaving the house one day. She demanded a proper investigation of the incident.

Shahdat Hossain, the investigation officer in this case and the additional deputy commissioner of DMP’s detective branch, said he would contact forensic physicians to know about the probable time of death of Sadman.

Post-mortem report is the most important document in the cases of unnatural death as it reveals the reason of death, said police officials.

They say the post-mortem reports are usually delayed in case of unnatural deaths. Some it takes more than a year which delays the investigation subsequently.

According to police, in the capital, post-mortem is conducted at Dhaka Medical College, Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Sir Salimullah Medical College. Post-mortem is conducted under the forensic departments of these three colleges. However, all these three forensic departments lack in manpower.

Sohail Mahmud, dean of the forensic department at Sir Salimullah Medical College, told Prothom Alo that the forensic department needs a professor, two associate professors, three assistant professors and five lecturers. However, the department has three people in total. The scenario is the same in Dhaka Medical College and Salimullah Medical College as well.

According to police sources, Dhaka Medical College alone has received 400 dead bodies in the last four months for post-mortem. As a result, post-mortem reports of cases of unnatural deaths are usually delayed.

Speaking regarding this, Sohail Mahmud, dean of the forensic department at Sir Salimullah Medical College, said the main reason for the delay is the lack of manpower. In addition, a forensic physician has to go to different districts to testify in different cases apart from teaching the students which takes a lot of time and delays the post-mortem report.