Satara Mass Killings: Skin Specialist, Anaesthetist Forced To Carry Out Autopsies

Satara Mass Killings: Skin Specialist, Anaesthetist Forced To Carry Out Autopsies

Dr Santosh Pol touted as Dr Death.

MUMBAI:  Because of the murder method (lethal injection) and the time that had elapsed since the crimes (as long as 13 years), investigators knew that the biggest challenge was finding the forensic evidence to nail the accused, Santosh Pol. But mid-day investigations have revealed that instead of getting the best forensic surgeons for the autopsy, the local police dumped the job on a dermatologist and an anaesthetist from the local civil hospital. What’s more, both doctors had protested that they were not up to such a complex task, but the cops pushed them to do it anyway.

The civil hospital has a basic post-mortem centre but doesn’t have a forensic department specialised in such cases. The local police and the Satara civil surgeon should have notified the nearby BJ Medical college in Pune or the Kolhapur and Miraj medical colleges for help. On the contrary, they asked the local hospital’s dermatologist Dr Sheetal Sawant and anaesthetist Dr SD Babar to conduct the post-mortem and collect samples for DNA examination.

Dr Sawant was the on-duty medical officer at the civil hospital on Tuesday, while Dr Babar was asked to assist. Both doctors tried to refuse, stating that they were not forensic experts and that the case should be referred to the experts from nearby medical colleges. However, local police officials insisted that they conduct the post-mortem anyway. Interestingly, they had also approached a third doctor – Prakash Pol, who holds a diploma in forensic medicine and is attached to the civil hospital. He also refused and said they were not qualified for such autopsies.

The doctors went as far as to say, “We are used to conducting routine post-mortem cases, but we have no understanding of forensic medicine and won’t be able to certify the cause of death. Also, such autopsies need to be done in daylight, not in the middle of the night.”

But all their pleas fell on deaf ears. While Dr Pol managed to get away, Dr Sawant and Babar eventually had to carry out the post-mortems from 11 pm to 4 am, after which the DNA samples were sealed and handed over the police.

Dr Sheetal Sawant confirmed the entire incident and said the civil surgeon was aware of the entire situation, but refused to comment further.

Cop speak

When the matter was brought to the notice of Additional Director General of Police (Special Operations and Law and Order) Bipin Bihari, he said, “I have instructed the IGP to personally supervise the matter and ensure that the samples are preserved properly and corrective measures are taken.”


Expert speak

Shailesh mohite, HoD of Forensic dept at BYL Nair medical college

Ascertaining the cause of death is very crucial in such cases, to corroborate the claims of the accused. This can be done only by forensic experts and not regular doctors. Forensic experts can find implants like root canals and artificial joints that can help to identify the deceased.

Bodies labelled

Sources raised questions about how the police presumed to know the identity of the four exhumed bodies before any DNA tests. Even before the autopsies, the cops had labelled each body with a name. “If the police have identified the dead just from the skeletal remains and decomposed bodies, then why should the samples even be sent for DNA examination?” a doctor pointed out.

Blame game

Dr Srikant Bhoi, civil surgeon, Satara, said, “The police kept insisting that they wanted the post-mortem and DNA samples at the earliest. The police can take the remains to the medical college directly and get a second post-mortem done. I will write to the Superintendent of Police.” Inspector Vinayak Vetal of Wai police, who supervised the post-mortem, said, “I am only doing the paper work. The matter is now with the crime branch for investigation.” Experts also pointed out that investigators had failed to photograph and videograph the PM process and did not submit the inquest panchnama.

Anaesthetic stolen from hospital

The drug that Pol had injected his victims with – a muscle relaxer and anaesthetic called Scoline – was stolen from a local hospital in Wai. Dr Pol was attached to the Dr Gotavdekar Hospital and would steal the drug from there. Cops have learnt that he had not been working there for the past year. A senior anaesthetist revealed that if Scoline is misused, it can lead to cardiac arrest within 10 minutes. It costs less than Rs. 100.

Criminal history

Investigations into the Satara serial murder case has revealed that the accused Dr Santosh Pol and his accomplice Jyoti Mandre had earlier cases of extortion registered against them with the local police. Preliminary inquires have revealed in order to derail the probe, the accused had filed fake complaints of harassment against the officers. A police officer attached to Wai police station said, “The complainant filed an extortion case stating that they were demanding Rs. 1 lakh from him. Jyoti had already collected Rs. 20,000 as part payment. But before we could arrest them, they managed to get anticipatory bail.”

Inquires also revealed that Dr Pol was accused in a cheque bouncing case registered with Pune police and a non-bailable arrest warrant had been sent to the Wai police station. When the police went to arrest him, he claimed the police had assaulted him. However, doctors confirmed his injuries were self-inflicted.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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