The family of 39-year-old Vangara Nagaraju, a resident of Karimnagar district in Telangana, is seeking justice. Police officials have closed the case pertaining to his mysterious death.
"We are angry. How can they just close the case like that? They have not given us a clear reason, and it is unacceptable," alleges Nagaraju’s second son, Srinivas.
On June 2 last year, Vangara Nagaraju, who lived in Nagampet village in Karimnagar district, dropped dead with a swollen hand, just after returning home from Bengaluru.
Nagaraju was part of a clinical trial conducted by Bengaluru's Lotus Labs and his family did not know about this. They knew about the trials only when they accessed documents from his bag, after his death.
According to them, Nagaraju may have been doing it for several years and they didn’t have a clue.
Following his death, his family had travelled to Bengaluru to approach Lotus Labs for compensation. However, they claimed that the only assurance they got was that the company will pay the full amount of Rs 19, 000 for the trial.
Earlier this week, the family received a rude shock, when authorities claimed that Nagaraju's case would be closed.
This came two days after Srinivas had approached the State Human Rights Commission, questioning the delay in submission of the forensics lab report on January 12.
Speaking to media persons, Karimnagar City Police Commissioner VB Kamalasan Reddy said that they had received a forensic report from the Kakatiya Medical College (KMC) in Warangal.
The police said that the test had concluded that there was a "lack of evidence", after carrying out a physical, chemical and instrumental analysis.
They also said that they were closing the case after the post-morterm, citing the same lack of evidence.
Nagaraju's body had been exhumed more than two weeks after his death, following a police complaint on June 16, and a post-mortem was conducted.
At the time, a case was registered with the Jammikunta police, under section 174 CrPC (suspicious death).
Speaking to TNM, Jammikunta Inspector of Police P Prashanth Reddy said, "Even after 8 months of trying, we could not establish the relationship between the death and the allegations raised by the family. Only due to this, we decided to close the pending case."
"In case some new things come up, we will be willing to reopen the case," he added.
Clinical trials come under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and are overseen by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
"Even if clinical trial centres follow all laws, rules and guidelines according to the 1940 Act and DCGI, it is one poor person in need of money, who has to participate in the tests. Despite all these rules, why are families and people suffering? Is there no provision for justice under the law?" asked local social activist Shaik Shabir Ali.
Shabir also questioned the police's move of inviting the lab authorities to Karimnagar, instead of visiting the lab personally to understand the ground reality better.
However, responding to the allegations, the investigating police officer said, "We summoned officials of the lab four times. Whatever we asked for, they have provided. We moved forward only after cross-verification of everything."
"Why are state governments not taking action? Either close the centres or rework the rules to ensure that victims can demand justice," Shabir demanded.
Srinivas now plans to move the HRC again over his father's death, and demand that a proper probe be conducted into the death.