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Asha Goel murder: Forensic report awaited

December 12, 2006 05:55 IST
Chief Inspector (Crime Branch) of Mumbai Police, Jayawant Hargude, has been in Toronto for two weeks waiting for results of DNA testing by Ontario's modern Forensic Laboratory of the articles pertaining to the case of Dr Asha Goel, an Indo-Canadian, who was murdered in Mumbai on August 23, 2003.

In a telephone interview from his room at Toronto's Grand Hotel, Hargude said on December 8, "Our investigation is nearly complete but some additional evidence is likely to be collected and so, at the orders of the Bombay High Court, I have come here with several articles that were collected during the course of the investigation.

"Already these articles have been examined by our laboratory in Mumbai," he said.

As the Bombay High Court record of September 28, 2006 shows, Ontario's Deputy coroner Jim Cairns wrote to Mumbai Police Commissioner A N Roy on May 1, 2006, "...they are ready to assist the investigation team."

They offered this help as the deceased was a Canadian and as per the court's record 'the chief coroner for Ontario 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.'

Mumbai Police is getting this service from Ontario Forensic Laboratory free of charge, Hargude said. But as per court orders, Hargude's travel expenses, his hotel, food, etc. are being born by the deceased family through their Vancouver-based businessman son, Sanjay Goel.

In an interview on December 11, Sanjay Goel conceded, "We are paying all the expenses as ordered by the court."

"I handed over all the articles to the Forensic Center in Toronto over two weeks back for DNA examination and I am waiting for the results," he told this reporter.

He has no idea how many more days it would take for him to get the results. "I have to stay here and take the results with me to India as per court orders."

"We have examined all those articles in our forensic laboratory in Mumbai except DNA analysis, which is not available there," Hargude said.

When asked about the details of the articles that he brought with him, Hargude said, "There are clothes recovered from the accused persons and they are to be compared with personal clothes of the deceased (Asha Goel), to find out if blood traces on these clothes match with blood traces of the deceased.

"In Mumbai, the blood on the clothes of the accused was traced but the blood group couldn't be determined because clothes were recovered after a long time," Hargude explained.

There are four accused in this case. Two of them under detention are Pawan Kumar Goenka and Pradeep Parab.

The letter from Ontario Chief Coroner says, "The Center of Forensic Sciences, with their biology section, which has been successful in extracting DNA material from fabric that has been washed, has the ability to extract DNA from the samples the detectives at Mumbai Police recovered in the case of the murder of Dr Asha Goel."

Hargude filed a reply accepting that the facility for DNA analysis is not available in the forensic science laboratory either at Kalina or at Kolkata. So the Bombay High Court decided 'there cannot be any objection' to taking medical and forensic investigation assistance from Canada.

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 unknown persons entered into his house in order to commit theft and entered the guest room where Asha was staying and murdered her. They took away property worth Rs 1,21,000 including her diamond ring, pearl necklace set, mobile phone and cash.

Agrawal has since died of natural causes.

Another brother of the deceased is Subhah Ranchoddas Agrawal, who is based in Ottawa. He himself filed a petition before the Bombay High Court in August taking exception to his name having been mentioned as amongst the list of accused in this case.

On August 31, Bombay High Court ordered that Subhash Agrawal should be interrogated. Hargude said, "We want to interrogate Subhash Agrawal and so we have already initiated extradition proceedings."

Ajit Jain in Toronto