In the alleged fake encounter case of Tulsiram Prajapati, a medical officer, who had examined two of the accused policemen, said there were no traces of chilli powder in their eyes. The police team, escorting Tulsiram back to Udaipur central jail from Ahmedabad after a court hearing on December 27, 2006, had claimed that he, with the help of two of his associates, had flung chilli powder in their eyes, and escaped from the train. The accused claim that a search had then begun for Tulsiram and he was subsequently killed in an exchange of fire a day later, while the CBI claims he was killed in a staged encounter.
On Wednesday, the medical officer told the court that the policemen from Himmat Nagar Government Railway Police, Gujarat, had brought two policemen identified by them as Kartar Singh and Yudhvir Singh. The GRP policemen brought a letter stating the two men be examined for chilli powder in their eyes.
“I have examined both patients, but there was no chilli powder in their eyes,” the medical officer said. He also added that he had referred them to an (ophthalmologist) eye specialist, who also did not find any foreign material in their eyes but prescribed eye drops as they had complaint of a burning sensation in their eyes.
During cross-examination by the defence advocates, however, the medical officer said the chilli powder comes off when washed with water. “It is correct to say that the botanical name of chilli is Capsicum annuum and it is an organic powder. It is correct to say that it comes off when washed with water,” said the medical officer. He also said that the burning sensation could remain in the eyes for a prolonged period. As per the accused, while the chilli powder was thrown at them around 3 am, the medical officer examined them nearly 13 hours later, at 4.15pm.
Two other witnesses, forensic science experts, also deposed on Wednesday. The first official, who was attached with the forensic science laboratory (FSL) in Ahmedabad, told the court that he was sent six samples in connection with the case. While he had forwarded one that contained chilli powder to the biology department, he had examined the other samples including four empty cartridges. He told the court that after analysis, he had given his opinion, stating that they were fired from a .380 revolver. He said the cartridges were sent to the Gandhinagar FSL, which was already examining a firearm in connection with the alleged escape of Tulsiram.
The FSL scientific officer from Gandhinagar, who had examined the firearm, also deposed on Wednesday. He told the court that the four empty cartridges matched with the revolver sent for examination. “It was fired from a service revolver,” the witness said.
The revolver belonged to ASI Narayan Singh, who had claimed to have fired as Tulsiram had tried to escape. The Ahmedabad FSL officer also examined a tubelight metal cover and a plywood cut-out piece from the train compartment, in which the firing took place.
“These two exhibits showed that the marks on them were caused by a firearm. They (bullets) were fired from below (at an angle), and not straight at the roof,” the official told the court. “As per our opinion, the bullets were fired from a firearm given to policemen… It is not available to private persons,” the official said.