It took three months, a three-member special investigation team, five police suspensions, and national outrage for India’s Central Bureau of Investigation to file a chargesheet against the upper caste men who raped and murdered a 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.
From the moment they committed their crimes on 14 September 2020, Luvkush, Sandeep, Ramu, and Ravi were treated with kid gloves by local law enforcement. Their victim’s statement was belatedly recorded, and her body—in yet another example of flagrant disregard for consent—was cremated without familial permission. Any additional evidence that could have proved useful had turned to ash in the thick of night. The CBI was left to scramble for needles in a haystack after taking over the case. That’s when it turned to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, or CFSL, whose seven national laboratories are affiliated to the bureau and the home ministry.
Soil and bajra (pearl