Four corpses remain in government hospital mortuary. Post-mortem conducted, X-rays taken.
There was a large police presence at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital on Saturday where the autopsy of the bodies of the five suspected bank robbers was conducted. Journalists and OB vans remained stationed inside the hospital and near the mortuary throughout the day, sparking the interest of passersby and patients — most of them had no idea what was going on. The sense of urgency that gripped reporters ebbed around lunch and returned around 3 p.m. as they doggedly waited for information.
Police presence increased around 4 p.m. — an indication that the bodies might be shifted. At the mortuary entrance, five vans bearing toll-free number ‘155377' and about a dozen staff in grey uniform waited. They told this reporter that they had not been given any specific route. “Usually they tell us where to go, but we have been told to wait until we are called,” one of the drivers said.
At 4.20 p.m., three policemen and a safari suit-clad man, along with a youth, who must have been a little over 20, met the Resident Medical Officer and sought the release of the body of Vinod Kumar, the kingpin of the gang said to be involved in the two daring bank robberies. A little later, Vinod Kumar's body was wheeled out of the morgue and shifted into a grey ambulance instead of the waiting vans.
The body, one policeman said, was being taken to Sri Ramachandra Hospital in Porur for embalming, after which it was to be taken to the airport. The family planned to take the body by a Kolkata-bound flight leaving at 7.30 p.m. He said since the family had not sought police protection, none was provided.
The bodies of the five slain suspects were brought to the government general hospital from the Royapettah Government Hospital as the only forensic expert there was out of town. As Velachery falls under the jurisdiction of the Royapettah hospital, the bodies were brought there first. This was also the reason why Geeta Rani, who is posted in the Egmore court, was chosen as the magistrate to enquire into the case.
Ms. Geeta Rani is frequently called upon for inquiries at the Government Kilpauk Hospital and known for her meticulous cross-examination techniques, according to some hospital authorities familiar with her style of functioning.
On Friday, senior forensic medicine professor Rajamani and resident medical officers M. Anand Pratap and J. Ponnurajeswari accompanied her to the mortuary for the examination. Sources said she had a difficult time identifying the suspects from the seven voter identity cards she had been provided. She also had lengthy discussions with the police and the bank officials who were brought to the hospital to identify the bodies.
Hospital sources said she finished inspection of the bodies around 11.30 p.m. on Friday. Instructions were then issued to have the bodies X-rayed as is necessary in such sensitive cases. Around midnight, the bodies were shifted in ambulances to the hospital for X-ray. Around 20 X-rays of each body were taken. The purpose is to assess the age of the bones, an expert said. The entire process was finally completed around 6 a.m. on Saturday, after which the bodies were returned to the mortuary.
Police request for post-mortem was received around 10 a.m. on Saturday and three senior forensic experts were deployed. Assistant professor Vedanayakam conducted the post-mortem on two bodies, director of forensic medicine Santha Kumar on another two, and Dr. Rajamani on the remaining one. The entire process was videographed.
When asked whether the hospital would consider embalming the unclaimed bodies of the remaining four suspects, authorities said that unless a specific direction is received from the magistrate, the bodies would remain in the mortuary. In such sensitive cases, the hospital does not dispose of the bodies as there might be a request for another post-mortem from agencies such as the human rights commission.
The question of embalming the bodies elsewhere does not arise as it would be expensive. In case embalming is called for, it would be done at Madras Medical College, which is attached to the government general hospital, the authorities said.