The Bhanwari Devi murder case trial has taken a new twist with FBI DNA expert Amber B Carr failing to appear in the SC/ST special court in Jodhpur on Thursday. The court has issued fresh summons asking her to appear on July 6, but it’s not clear whether she will able to appear.
Bhanwari Devi, a 36-year-old auxiliary nurse midwife, was killed while trying to escape from the clutches of her kidnappers on September 1, 2011. Her body was later set on fire. The accused had then collected her mortal remains, including bones, crushed them with a baseball bat before throwing them into the Rajiv Gandhi link canal near Jodhpur.
The CBI had recovered the remains, including fragments of teeth and skull. After two top forensic laboratories, based in Delhi and Hyderabad, told the agency that the technology to test “excessively damaged samples” was not available in the country, the CBI sent the fragments to the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The FBI had confirmed that the bone fragments belonged to Bhanwari Devi. The report was signed by Amber Carr, who was FBI supervisory biologist at the time.
However, it is not clear whether Carr would appear on July 6. “The problem is that we don’t know whether Carr is still working with the FBI and whether she will visit India or prefer a video conference from the US,” said a lawyer requesting anonymity.
Prosecution lawyer of CBI Ejaz Khan could not be reached for a comment.
“The process of summoning the FBI examiner requires compliance of legal provision given by section 311 of CrPC. Non-compliance will vitiate the summoning and consequential examination if at all it takes place,” defence lawyer Hemant Nahta said.
On June 2, Indra Bishnoi, the prime accused and a co-conspirator in the abduction and murder of Bhanwari Devi, was arrested by the Rajasthan ATS from Dewas district in Madhya Pradesh. Former Congress legislators Malkhan Singh Bishnoi, who is the brother of Indra Bishnoi, along with former minister Mahipal Maderna have been named as accused in the case and are currently in jail.
The mortal last remains of Bhanwari Devi are still lying with the CBI. Carr had confirmed that the charred bones, teeth and part of the skull found in the canal were of Bhanwari Devi after the samples matched the DNA of her mother and daughter.
The special SC/ST trial court in Jodhpur had sent the summons to CBI’s Interpol wing and it was forwarded to the Department of Justice, US, and subsequently to the FBI. Carr is one of seven witnesses yet to testify in the trial while 193 witnesses have been deposed out of which 58 turned hostile.