Chief Inspector of the Mumbai police's crime branch Jayawant Hargude is in Toronto for two weeks awaiting results of DNA testing -- by Ontario's modern forensic laboratory -- of articles pertaining to the case of Dr Asha Goel, an Indo-Canadian who was murdered in Mumbai, August 23, 2003.
In a telephonic interview from his room at Toronto's Grand Hotel, Hargude said December 8, "Our investigation is nearly complete, but some additional evidence is likely to be collected so, on the orders of the Bombay high court, I have come here with several articles that were collected during the course of the investigation. These have already been examined by our laboratory in Mumbai."
He added that Ontario's Deputy Coroner Jim Cairns wrote to Mumbai Police Chief Commissioner A N Roy May 1, that the Canadian police were ready to assist the investigation team. They offered this help as the deceased was a Canadian. As per the court's record, 'the Chief Coroner for Ontario has performed a second autopsy on Dr Asha Goel at their family's request and they have preserved genetic material of the deceased, which can be used to make a genetic comparison to any samples that the investigating agency in India may wish to have tested.'
The Mumbai police received this service from the Ontario forensic laboratory "free of charge," Hargude said. But, as per the court orders, Hargude's travel expenses, accommodation, food, etc are being borne by the deceased's family, primarily their Vancouver-based businessman son, Sanjay Goel.
Sanjay Goel told rediff India Abroad, "Yes, we are paying all expenses as ordered by the court. I
handed over all the articles to the forensic center in Toronto over two weeks ago for a DNA examination and am waiting for results. I have to stay here and take the results with me to India as per the court orders."
"I have come for DNA analysis as they have new, advanced techniques in Canada." He said the police considered Ontario's offer and "we said to ourselves, why not, if it helps the investigation," Hargude added.
When asked about the details of the articles he brought with him, Hargude said they included "clothes recovered from the accused persons that are to be compared with the clothes of the deceased (Asha Goel), to find out if blood traces are present and how they match with blood
traces of the deceased. On the basis of our examination in Mumbai, we have traced the blood on the clothes of the accused, but the blood group cannot be determined in our lab because the clothes were recovered after a long time."
There are four accused in this case. Two of them under detention are Pawan Kumar Goenka and Pradeep Parab. "We have recovered clothes from these two that have traces of blood," said Hargude.
According to the Bombay high court record, the Ontario Chief Coroner has 'preserved genetic material of the deceased, which can be used to make a genetic comparison to any samples that the investigating agency in India may wish to have tested.'
The Mumbai police, as the court records also show, 'filed their reply accepting that the facility for Mitochondrial DNA analysis is not available in the forensic science laboratory either at Kalina (in Mumbai) or at Kolkata and, if it is the petitioner's belief that carrying out such an analysis on the material seized by the police during the course of investigation would bring to light with unerring certainty the culpability of the concerned accused, it will only aid the investigation further.'
Asha Goel was at the apartment of her brother, Suresh Ranchhoddas Agrawal, the night she was killed. In his first information report to the police, Agrawal said some unknown persons entered his house in order to commit theft. They entered the guest room where the deceased was staying, murdered her and took away property worth Rs 121,000, including her diamond ring, pearl necklace set, mobile phone and cash.
Agrawal has since died of natural causes.