INDIA: Police, magistrate and doctor cover-up murder of 17-year-old girl


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-33-2004
ISSUES: Judicial system, Rule of law,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information on the attempt to cover up the murder of 17-year-old girl Mousumi Ari by the police, magistrate and the doctor. 

Mousumi Ari, of Narayanpur Village, West Bengal, was murdered by her in-laws in October 2003. However, as her father-in-law is connected with the police, the officers concerned with the case colluded with the investigating magistrate and doctor to cover-up the truth. Due to public pressure, the family members have now been charged with murder. However, the police and prosecution still appear to be acting to get an acquittal. Meanwhile, the police officers, magistrate and doctor involved are all still at their posts and none have faced disciplinary action despite flagrantly violating the law. 

Your urgent action is requested to have Mousumi’s murderers brought to justice, and the perpetrator state officers held to account for their actions. 

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)


Victim: Mousumi Ari, wife of Bidhan Ari, daughter of Sukumar Sahoo, aged about 17 years, of 3rd Gheri, Narayanpur Village (Reference: the photo of the victim)

Alleged perpetrators:
  1. Bidhan Ari, husband Mousumi Ari, son of Swadesh Ari, unemployed, aged about 23 years
  2. Swadesh Ari, Home Guard personnel posted at Kakdwip Police Station, aged about 47 years
  3. Minati Ari, wife of Swadesh Ari, aged about 40 years
  4. Tushi Ari, daughter of Swadesh Ari, aged about 19 years
  5. Kanchan Ari, aunt of Bidhan Ari

Government officials involved in shielding the perpetrators:
  1. Amiya Kanti Ghosh, Sub-Inspector of Police, Kakdwip Police Station, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, Investigating Officer (IO) of this case
  2. Debashis Chakraborty, Officer in Charge (OC) of Kakdwip Police Station
  3. Dr. Gauranga Biswas, medical officer of Diamond Harbour Hospital, South 24 Parganas, Autopsy Surgeon 
  4. Dipak Kumar Kanoongo, Executive Magistrate, South 24 Parganas, inquiring magistrate of the dead body

Case details: 

Mousumi Ari was a grade nine student in 2002 when at the age of 14 she married Bidhan Ari, without the consent of her family, as the groom belonged to a lower caste and Mousumi was a minor. After the marriage, the husband and his family members used to torture Mousumi both physically and mentally for dowry and money from her father. As her father works on fishing boats, he did not have the means to pay. 

On 25 October 2003, Mousumi died at her husband’s house under mysterious circumstances. Some villagers informed her mother, Laxmi Sahoo, about her death. When she and other family members went to the house they found Mousumi’s body on the floor. Mousumi’s in-laws said that she had hanged herself and they had cut her down, but her mother and relatives saw blood on her clothes and numerous injuries on her body. 

When police from Kakdwip station, led by SI A K Ghosh, arrived at the scene, rather than investigating properly, they removed Mousumi’s clothes and put fresh clothes on her body. They took away the bloodstained clothes in a packet. They failed to undertake their primary duty, that of sending her to the hospital for medical examination. In fact, although they arrived at the scene on the morning of October 25, they did not dispatch the body, according to records, until 12:45pm. It may even be that when the police arrived, Mousumi was still alive, however, their neglect resulted in her death. The police also failed to collect blood and other evidence on the scene, and failed to secure the place; subsequently, the bloodstains on the floor and wall were washed away. 

The police insisted that the case was a suicide and they would lodge a report to that effect. But Laxmi Sahoo refused to accept their judgment, so the police took her, the body of her daughter, and other relatives to the police station. They were kept there until late night, when finally Mousumi’s uncle, Subodh Sahoo, was forced to write a complaint, as dictated by the police, stating that Mousumi had killed herself. Laxmi Sahoo was forced to sign the paper. It appears that the police were acting to protect Mousumi’s father-in-law, Swadesh Ari, who is a Home Guard (an auxiliary police force), who was posted at Kakdwip station at that time. Swadesh, Bidhan, Minati and Tushi Ari were arrested, but charged only with causing the suicide of Mousumi (Kakdwip PS Case No. 101; Unnatural Death Case No. 73/2003, 25 October 2003). 

The inquest into Mousumi’s body was conducted at the police station on the same day, without the presence of a doctor to declare the body legally dead, as required by the law. Mousumi’s relatives were also not called to the inquest, although they were being held in the police station at the time. D K Kanoongo, Executive Magistrate, conducted the inquest, and in his report he found there were no injuries on the body. The body itself was not received at the morgue until October 26 at 1pm. This means that police kept the body in their possession for 24 hours without consulting any doctor. Finally, according to records, at 1:45pm on October 26, Dr G Biswas, Medical Officer of Diamond Harbour Hospital, examined the body. He also submitted a report that there was no injury, except one mark on her neck. However, it is quite likely that the doctor never even sighted the body, as post mortem procedures all over West Bengal are completely defective (see AHRC statement AS-03-2004, 26 February 2004).

Mousumi’s family by now could see that there was a plan to hush-up the circumstances of her death and protect the culprits. Understanding the importance of the body as evidence, when they got it back they decided to try to preserve it, despite all of their religious traditions being to the contrary. Knowing that fish could be preserved with salt, they dug an eight-feet deep pit and put 70kgs of salt into it, upon which they placed the body in a plastic wrapping. With the help of others, Mousumi’s father wrote complaints to the Chief Minister of West Bengal, District Superintendent of Police, District Magistrate, and West Bengal Human Rights Commission, among others, requesting a reinvestigation of the body. 

In December 2003, one local women’s organization approached human rights group Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (Masum) to help with the case. After investigations, Masum approached senior police and the Chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, without result. Finally, through its intervention, the Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate ordered a new post mortem on December 20. 

On 2 January 2004, Mousumi’s body was exhumed in the presence of senior police officers, but remarkably the same Executive Magistrate as conducted the first inquest held the second inquest, and again found nothing. He and the local police officers then made an attempt to get the post mortem also conducted at the same hospital. However, Masum successfully lobbied government officials for the post mortem to be held at the Calcutta Morgue. There, a team of doctors, led by Associate Professor L K Ghosh, Department of Forensic and State Medicine, examined the body on January 3. The team found numerous injuries on the body and concluded that death was caused by “forceful impact on head with hard blunt agent or hard rough surface”. The team also could not find any mark on the neck as indicated in the first report, but noted that the first doctor had failed to properly examine the victim. 

After the second autopsy, police added a charge of murder against the five accused. However, the final investigation report still suggests a case of suicide, not murder. The report includes 36 witness statements all carefully crafted by the Investigating Officer SI Ghosh, which are part of his work to pervert the course of justice, rather than to undertake a real investigation and accurately record genuine witness statements. The times and dates of events in various official documents also do not correspond. The contradictions contained in the final report are sufficient to lead to an acquittal of the accused on the benefit of the doubt, particularly when witnesses taking the stand in court are likely to make statements that further contradict what has been recorded by the police. Meanwhile, Mousumi’s family is still keeping her body preserved with salt, as they are concerned that the case will have an unfavourable result. 

Please write to the Chief Minister of West Bengal to urge him to intervene into this case, in order that the offending state officers will be suspended from duty, and a proper reinvestigation into the case be conducted. 

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear Sir

Re: Murder of Mousumi Ari (Kakdwip PS Case No. 101, UD Case No. 73/2003, 25.10.2003) 

I am deeply concerned over the proceedings of the investigation into the apparent murder of 17-year-old Mousumi Ari, of Narayanpur Village, South 24 Paraganas, West Bengal. According to the information I have received, Ms Ari was murdered by her in-laws. However, the officers of Kakdwip police station, Executive Magistrate concerned (Mr D K Kanoongo), and Autopsy Surgeon (Mr G Biswas), appear to have colluded to cover-up the murder as a member of the Home Guard attached to Kakdwip police station was among the accused. 

Among the many problems arising out of this case are the following:
1. On arrival at the scene, officers of Kakdwip police station, led by SI A K Ghosh, failed to send Mousumi’s body immediately to a hospital, as is their primary duty. 
2. The officers failed to secure the place of occurrence, which allowed for evidence to be destroyed. 
3. The officers later refused to record a complaint of murder from the mother. Instead they forced her to sign a complaint indicating that her daughter had committed suicide due to cruelty. 
4. There are inconsistencies in the times and dates of various official records, speaking to the fact that they had been badly fabricated. 
5. The police officers removed evidence from the scene of the crime, but did not record it on the list of seized items; they also failed to collect evidence. 
6. Although the body had not been declared legally dead by a doctor, as required under section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Executive Magistrate held his inquest at the police station, without the family members present. The same Executive Magistrate was later called upon to conduct a second inquest. 
7. According to records, the police kept the body for around 24 hours, without any medical examination being undertaken in that time. 
8. While the Investigating Officer added a charge of murder to his final report, the substance of the investigating documents, including the majority of 36 witness statements, suggests an act of suicide. This contradiction may allow the Court to acquit the accused on the benefit of the doubt. 
9. The Autopsy Surgeon, who is attached to Diamond Harbour State General Hospital, put his signature on a post mortem report to the effect that there were no injuries on the body other than a mark on the neck. However, the subsequent autopsy, led by Associate Professor L K Ghosh, Department of Forensic and State Medicine, found numerous injuries on the body and concluded that death was caused by “forceful impact on head with hard blunt agent or hard rough surface”, but failed to find any mark on the neck as described in the first autopsy. The second autopsy report also noted that the first autopsy surgeon had failed to examine the body in accordance with standard practice. 

Accordingly, I urge you to order the suspension of the Officer in Charge of Kakdwip police station, Mr D Chakraborty, the Investigating Officer, SI A K Ghosh, the Executive Magistrate, Mr D K Kanoongo, and the Medical Officer, Mr G Biswas, pending further investigations. I also urge you to order the reinvestigation of the murder of Mousumi Ari by any responsible criminal investigation agency other than the state police, taking into account the manufacturing and fabricating of official records by the abovementioned state personnel, with a view to criminal prosecution.

Yours truly,



Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya
Chief Minister
Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings
Kolkata-1, West Bengal
Fax: +91-33-2214 5480


1. Mr S N Roy
Chief Secretary
Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings
Kolkata-1, West Bengal
Fax: +91-33-2214 4328

2. Director of Health Service
Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings
Kolkata-1, West Bengal
Fax: +91-33-2214 5101

3. Mr Shyamal Kumar Dutta
Director General & Inspector General of Police
Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings
Kolkata-1, West Bengal
Fax: +91-33-2214 4498 / 2214 5486

4. Justice A S Anand
National Human Rights Commission of India
Sardar Patel Bhawan, Sansad Marg, 
New Delhi – 110 001
Tel: +91 11 2334 0891 / 2334 7065
Fax: +91 11 2334 0016

5. Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen
West Bengal Human Rights Commission
Bhavani Bhavan
Alipur, Kolkata-27
West Bengal
Tel: +91 33 4797259 / 5558866
Fax: +91-33-2479 9633

6. Mr. Leandro Despouy
Special Rapporteur on the Independence of judges and lawyers
OHCHR-UNOG, Palais Wilson, 
Rue des Paquis 52, Geneva
Tel: +41 22 9175727
Fax: +41 22 9179006 

7. Ms. Yakin Erturk 
Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women
OHCHR-UNOG, Palais Wilson,
8-14 Avenue de la Paix,
1211 Geneva 10
FAX: +41 22 9179022

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-33-2004
Countries : India,
Issues : Judicial system, Rule of law,