Mumbai girl's murder probe halted after heart goes missing

By  Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai | Posted  17-Jul-2017

Nearly five years after teenager Sanam Hasan mysteriously died at her birthday bash, cops still have no answers as her heart has gone missing after a series of major goof ups during the probe

Sanam cut a birthday cake with her parents on October 2, 2012, before heading out for the fateful partySanam cut a birthday cake with her parents on October 2, 2012, before heading out for the fateful party

Nearly five years after the death of Sanam Hasan post her 19th birthday party, her parents are searching for answers and her heart, which has mysteriously gone missing during the course of the investigation. This goof-up only came to light a couple of weeks ago, after the forensic laboratory in Hyderabad confirmed that they had been given an older woman's instead.

Sanam's parents are still waiting for answers about her death

Sanam's mother, Nagina, alleged that the heart had been switched deliberately to obstruct the investigation, as this is not the first time it has happened. The first time round, in fact, the forensic lab in Kalina found that the heart given to them belonged to a man.

Sanam's remains in Versova Kabrastan match the family's DNA, but the heart samples do not
Sanam's remains in Versova Kabrastan match the family's DNA, but the heart samples do not

"We suspect that someone influential, who is directly or indirectly connected to Sanam's death, might be involved. We understand it can be a mistake if it happens once, but it has happened twice and we still do not know where Sanam's heart is, so we have strong reason to suspect that it was done deliberately to derail the CBI probe."

The heart of the matter
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is unable to progress in its investigation of the teenager's mysterious death (see 'Flashback'), as the missing organ is right at the heart of the matter. When the post-mortem was conducted at Sassoon Hospital in Pune, where the teenager died in 2012, the doctor had concluded that her death was due to "alcoholic intoxication with ischemic heart disease" as per the histopathology findings. The autopsy report further stated that Sanam had nearly 70 per cent blockage in heart. Her vaginal swab chemical analysis report also stated that semen was present, which indicated that there was a sexual act. However, her parents rejected the findings and demanded a DNA test to prove that the autopsied heart was not Sanam's.

Also read: Sanam Hasan's corpse exhumed; all skeletal remains intact

A CBI officer said, "Sanam's parents denied that she died of alcohol intoxication with ischemic heart disease, but we won't be able to negate the cause of death unless we find the heart and test it. We could have sent the heart to the medical board for an opinion from an expert panel opinion, but without the organ, it is just impossible resolve the core debate."

Also read - Mumbai: CBI to drag kabrastan trust to court for defying exhumation order

Sanam's parents stated, "Our Sanam never had any heart problem, she was a football player and had participated in the college tournament just 12 days before her death. A day before the incident, she did cardio exercises at the gym. We could not accept the findings and hence demanded a DNA of the heart. A DNA test of the semen was also demanded."

A change of heart, twice
Upon the Hasan family's insistence, the viscera were sent to the Kalina lab, which confirmed that the heart belonged to a man. As mid-day had reported last year, when the case was transferred to the CBI, they exhumed Sanam's body from the grave in Versova Kabrastan in August 2016, and in January this year, a DNA test report proved that the remains were indeed hers.

Also read: After series of blunders, Mumbai teen's death probe hits another roadblock

The CBI then sent the viscera for testing at Hyderabad. This time, the heart was found to belong to a female — an older woman. All other organs (kidney, spleen, liver, etc, matched the family DNA though.

"Our biggest challenge is that Sanam's heart is missing. We exhumed the body and the DNA matched with her parents. So it is established that the grave was Sanam's, but where is her heart?" questioned a senior CBI officer.

Unanswered questions
>> Why weren't Sanam's friends at the hospital or the funeral?
>> Why was her phone's memory wiped clean?
>> Who replaced the 8GB memory card in her phone with a 2GB card?
>> Why didn't the post-mortem doctor photograph the vital organs during autopsy?
>> How did the officials switch Sanam's heart for a man's?
>> How was her heart switched a second time?

Flashback to 2012
Sanam was a second-year fashion designing and communication student at Pune's Symbiosis University. The Hasan family's last memories with the teenager are of cutting her birthday cake on October 12, 2012, after which Sanam was called away to a party by her friends. The party was the next morning, her family was informed that their daughter was in the hospital. By the time they arrived at the hospital, she was dead, and none of her friends were to be found there.

Who is responsible?
The CBI also questioned all the friends who were with Sanam on the fateful night, and found some discrepancies in the statements recorded by the local police soon after the incident in 2012. When asked if the CBI intended to question and book those involved in misplacing Sanam's heart, a senior officer said, "Our investigation is ongoing and we are in the process of finding out if Sanam's heart was replaced deliberately or otherwise."

Was it murder or a natural death?
Without the heart, the cops can't even declare the case a murder investigation. "The post-mortem doctor's provided cause for death is natural and we cannot prove otherwise without Sanam's heart," said a senior CBI officer.

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