In a shocking case of police inaction, the body of a young man who had gone missing from Uttam Nagar here and later died in a hospital after he was found semi-conscious at Nihal Vihar this past August remained in a mortuary for over five months and all this while the police could not establish his identity. While three policemen have been suspended, the highly decomposed body has finally been handed over now to the family of the deceased.

Thirty-five-year-old Saroj Poddar, a daily-wage worker, went missing from his rented accommodation at Hastsal in Uttam Nagar on August 2 last year. His relatives searched for him for a couple of days, after which they went to the area police station to lodge a missing report. “However, the police said he (Saroj) was not a child and that he would return on his own. They asked us to wait for a few days and finally registered a missing report on August 9,” said Saroj's sister-in-law Renu.

His photograph and other particulars were uploaded onto the Delhi Police's website. Saroj's wife Sarita and other relatives kept calling up the police seeking information on the whereabouts of her husband. “But there was no development in the case. On Monday evening, Sarita received a call from a policeman asking her to identify a dead body lying in the mortuary. The deceased turned out to be her husband,” said Renu. As the body was highly decomposed, Sarita identified her husband on the basis of a scar and a stitch mark on the body.

It is learnt that enquiries in the case were expedited after the mortuary authorities told the police to do something about the body lying there for the past over five months.

“Saroj was found in a semi-conscious condition in Nihal Vihar two days (August 4) after the incident. He was admitted to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital where he died on August 18. His body was kept in the hospital's mortuary. Head Constable Aniruddh Tyagi was handed over the case for identification of the deceased. However, it appears that he had did not check the list of missing persons in the Delhi Police Zipnet due to which the body could not be unidentified. Assistant Sub-Inspector Ramesh Chandra of the Uttam Nagar police station, who was probing the missing case, also did not conduct a proper enquiry in the hospital,” said a police officer.

Both the policemen have suspended along with ASI Sharda Devi, the then duty officer at the Uttam Nagar police station, and an enquiry instituted.

Shockingly, the body remained in the mortuary for over five months, whereas usually the police preserve them for not beyond 72 hours and cremate them in case no claimant turns up. It is alleged that the area policemen swung into action only when the hospital authorities threatened to report the matter to their seniors as intimations in the past had not worked.

The police eventually came across Saroj's photograph and details on their official website and contacted the person whose mobile phone number had been mentioned there. He turned out to be the victim's former landlord, who arranged his wife's phone number for them. “The post-mortem on the body was conducted on Wednesday and it was handed over to us for cremation. Saroj's wife is in a state of shock,” said Renu.

Saroj, who belonged to Vaishali in Bihar, lived with his wife, two daughters and a son, besides the families of his two other brothers.