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Friday, 4 September 2015

UK cops can go to this extent to investigate unidentified dead body!

Lancashire cops Graham Coates and Al Yusuf with an officer of Mumbai Police.

Sheena Bora was killed in 2012 and her murder case got detected only 3 years later. One of the causes for this delay was the unprofessional conduct of Raigarh cops who did not investigate the case of unidentified dead body found in their jurisdiction. Although, the body which was recovered by them was burnt and concealed in a travelling bag, they skipped to register a murder case. Raigarh cops also didn’t care to collect the report from anatomy department of Sir.J.J.Hospital where the skeletal remains were sent. Such conduct of Raigarh cops is an example of how cops treat the cases of unidentified dead bodies reported to them. This case has reminded me of “Operation Complex” of UK police. That operation demonstrated to which extent cops in UK go to investigate a case of unidentified dead body, no matter how much money has to be spent, how much manpower is to be employed and how much time it takes.

On July 26, 2002 a woman reported about the dead body to the Lancashire cops whose dog got hold of a bone from a rural drainage ditch. Lancashire cops initiated their investigations to ascertain the dead person’s identity. A preliminary examination by the official pathologist confirmed the bones to be human and it was also confirmed that the victim was murdered and he died due to injuries on his head. Following more detailed tests from Human Identification Unit of Glasgow University, it was established that the victim was of Asian origin, possibly from India, aged between 20 and 40 when he died. He was 5ft 6inches tall and of slender built. A facial reconstruction was also made from the skull. It was assumed that the body might be of some illegal immigrant.

Lancashire police conducted an exhaustive investigation throughout the UK. Police teams were sent to different cities who checked with Asian neighbourhoods if any person of the available description was missing. This continued for over 9 months, but Lancashire cops didn’t get any success. Then Lancashire police then decided to send teams to those countries which could be possibly the origin of the deceased. It was an arduous task to ascertain the identity of the victim and then find out his killers, hence, it was codenamed as “Operation Complex”. Under this operation two officers named Graham Coates and Altaf Yusuf visited India.

On reaching India in September 2003, both the officers met ex police commissioner of Mumbai Dr.Satyapal Singh, who was chief of crime branch then. The team had brought clay model and computer sketch of the deceased with them. On their request Satyapal Singh called a press conference to decimate information throughout the country with an attempt to identify the victim. Mumbai cops were amazed to see the efforts taken by Lancashire police to investigate a case of unidentified dead body so seriously. Some had sarcastic smile on their faces. Apart from Mumbai, Lancashire cops approached Gujarat and Punjab cops also for similar help. They also roped in cricketer Virendra Sehwag playing for the county to make an appeal to the public for identification of the victim.

These officers of Lancashire Constabulary became good friends of mine and they were impressed with the coverage which Star News gave to the case. In 2005 officer Al Yusuf came back to India and met me. Yusuf requested me that as Star News was very popular among Indian origin residents of UK, I must highlight “Operation Complex” in my weekly crime show “Red Alert” as this could help them. The fact that a police team from a small town in Britain was taking so much effort in pursuing the case of unidentified dead body was pleasantly surprising and interesting. I aired a whole episode of “Red Alert” on the operation appealing the viewers to reach out to Lancashire cops if they have any info about the victim. Lancashire police was impressed with our co-operation and sent a letter of appreciation to me.

Letter received by Jitendra Dixit from Lancashire Police, UK.


It has been over 12 years that “Operation Complex” was launched. Recently, when I spoke to Al Yusuf, he informed that “Operation Complex” is still on. So far the victim’s dead body has not been identified. In many cases it will be unfair to compare police of India and UK as cops in UK are better off in many ways than their Indian counterparts. However, our cops can still learn from them on how to pursue cases of unidentified dead bodies. “Operation Complex” of Lancashire Constabulary is inspiring and worth appreciation.

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