The conviction of the accused in the Sister Abhaya murder case has ushered in some sense of relief to two women, both chemical analysts, who worked on the case.
R. Geetha, the then Joint Chemical Examiner, and her colleague M. Chithra, technical assistant of the Chemical Examiners Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram, went into hiding after a media trial, court cases, and suspension from service following allegations of tampering with the chemical analysis documents in the case.
The tests carried out at the lab were significant as it threw light on the question whether Sr. Abhaya was sexually harassed.
It was the reports related to seminal stains in the vaginal swab and smear of Sr. Abhaya that brought trouble for them.
“Trouble started in 2007 after some media reports that we tampered with the vaginal swab and smear reports of Sr. Abhaya. It took almost seven long years to prove our innocence. Later, a court exonerated us,” Ms. Geetha told The Hindu.
The Flourence and Barberio tests to identify seminal stains on vaginal swabs of the slain nun gave wrong and confusing results. These primary tests were not universally accepted ones and cannot be treated as conclusive ones for seminal stains. The microscopic examination of swabs is the confirmatory test, Ms. Geetha said.
If sperm is present, its head and tail could be identified under microscopic examination. In the case of Abhaya, the microscopic test turned negative. The initial entries made in the worksheet were wrongly construed as corrections and manipulations to aid someone. It was the internal politics in the organisation that led to the leaking of the false news, which resulted in untold miseries, she said.
“After the court case and the non-bailable arrest warrant, we went into hiding. Later, we were interrogated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. However, all investigations proved our innocence,” she said.
“I lost my prime and precious seven-and-a-half years of life due to the wrong news and subsequent developments,” said Ms. Chithra.
“I do not want to revisit those days of suffering and humiliation, which were the outcome of some nasty internal politics,” she added.