Crime
As forensic evidence and medical records in the case were reportedly tampered with, the CBI does not want to miss any opportunity to gather evidence.

In a new development in the Ayesha Meera murder case, the CBI has now sought permission to exhume her body and conduct a re-post-mortem, more than 11 years after her death.

Ayesha Meera was a 19-year-old pharmacy student living in a private ladies hostel in Ibrahimpatnam near Vijayawada. On the night of December 27, 2007, her blood-stained body was found in the hostel’s bathroom with multiple stab injuries.

In October last year, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case had informed the Hyderabad High Court that the case records had been destroyed in the trial court.

Based on a petition by Ayesha’s parents stating that the material objects (evidence) which were in the trial court in Vijayawada were destroyed when the appeal against the verdict of the trial court was being heard in the High Court, the Hyderabad High Court had ordered a CBI investigation into the case in November. The HC had asked the CBI to file a fresh FIR and begin the process of re-investigating the case.

Speaking to TNM, lawyer Srinivas Rao who has been handling the case for several years, said, “In the earlier investigations, they’ve changed the evidence at the scene of offence in order to divert the investigation. The court has changed the case records too. On January 1, 2008, they gave the DNA evidence of the case to a head constable to take it to the Forensics Lab in Hyderabad. But the charge sheet says that the constable handed it over only on January 9, 2008. We don’t know what happened during those 5 days. There was scope for tampering with evidence. If there is proper DNA evidence related to the case in the lab, even if an accused is added to the case we can consult the lab. But if there is no DNA at all in the first place, there’s no chance of consulting.”

From the time of the murder, Koneru Sateesh, the grandson of the then Municipal Administration minister and former Deputy Chief Minister Koneru Ranga Rao, has been suspected to be involved. In 2008, police claimed that a man called Satyam Babu, who had been arrested in a cell phone robbery case, confessed to Ayesha’s murder. In 2010, Satyam Babu, who suffers from a neurological disorder, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Mahila Court in Vijayawada, but the Hyderabad HC acquitted him in 2017, ordering action against the police officials who investigated the case. Ayesha’s parents had alleged that the police pinned the crime on Satyam Babu to misdirect the investigation from Koneru Sateesh.

According to Srinivas Rao, the investigation reports initially said that the fatal injury was on the front side of Ayesha’s body. But according to the medical report, the injury was on the backside. The report also said that there was only a single wound on the body. “The FIR and investigations were all fabricated. So the CBI now suspects that there might have been more wounds. They discussed with the forensics team and concluded that even though it’s been more than 11 years, they might be able to find some traces of injuries. They also believe that they might be able to collect some DNA evidence. They did not want to rule out any possibilities or miss out any opportunities to gather evidence,” Srinivas said.

“Usually, when there are doubts in a case, this is something that is done within 10-15 days of burying the body. In this case, it is happening after 11 years,” he added.

The CBI sought permission from Ayesha’s parents, who gave their consent. “They will have to obtain permission from the CBI court. They will also have to inform the district magistrate and other district officials before performing re-post-mortem,” Srinivas Rao said.

Speaking to TNM, Ayesha’s mother, Shamshad Begum, said she was not pinning too much hope on the re-post-mortem. “We have told them who we believe the culprits are. They said they want to try and look for evidence and we agreed. We are not sure whether it will be of any use,” she said.