In July, the Delhi Police found the motionless body of a junior resident doctor in his rented South Delhi home, with a cannula (a thin tube inserted into a vein to administer medication) attached to his right forearm, but without external injuries or any sign of a scuffle having taken place. They deduced from that first impression that 26-year-old Saravanan Ganesan had committed suicide, possibly by injecting himself with a poisonous substance.

An inquest was initiated under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as the doctor had died of unnatural causes.

Ganesan, who is from Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur district, had started a postgraduation course in general medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences just 10 days before he was found dead in Gautam Nagar on July 10. His body was found by neighbours who had gone to check on him after his friends said that they were concerned that he had not answered or returned calls made to him the previous night.

While the Delhi Police insisted that the death was a case of suicide, back in Tamil Nadu, Ganesan’s medical college batchmates and family members believed foul play was involved and started organising protests, demanding that the Central Bureau of Investigation investigate the case.

The deceased junior resident doctor’s family and friends found it strange that though Ganesan was right-handed, the cannula was found inserted into his right forearm. They said that it would be nearly impossible for him to administer an injection with his left hand especially after fixing a cannula, which requires expertise.

The protests soon galvanised into a social media campaign named #JusticeforSaravanan, and several prominent figures extended support. Prominent political leaders from Tamil Nadu, including Leader of Opposition MK Stalin, and Kanimozhi and Anbumani Ramadoss, sought the intervention of the state government in the matter, Newsminute reported.

Autopsy rules out suicide

Earlier last month, details of Ganesan’s autopsy report emerged. Pointing out the cause of death was "poisoning by intravenous injection", it ruled out self-insertion of the intravenous injection, thus raising doubts about the suicide theory beyond which the Delhi Police had so far apparently been reluctant to investigate.

The report said:

“The exact fixing of cannula on the right forearm, as found in this case is not possible by the deceased himself and self-insertion is ruled out. Injection cannula could only be inserted by a person trained with this procedure hence it requires a meticulous investigation about the person/persons involved.”

The autopsy was conducted by the Department of Forensic Medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Dr Sudhir Gupta, who heads the department, said that at this stage it was difficult to conclude that the death was a case of homicide because there were no other external or internal injuries on Ganesan’s body to suggest any form of physical conflict with another person.

“A subsequent opinion will be given after receipt of a final report of circumstantial investigation, evidence and analysis of different preserved samples,” said Dr Gupta.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Delhi) Ishwar Singh did not take calls, and other senior officials in the district refused to comment on the matter. However, they confirmed that no FIR has been registered in connection with the case as yet, and that the police was mulling over its further course of investigation.

With suicide ruled out, and no signs of a physical struggle that could point investigators towards a homicide angle, another possibility emerges: that Ganesan was administered the drug by another person with his consent. Both Dr Gupta and senior police officials did not rule out this possibility.

However, following this line of investigation will require questioning of all of Ganesan’s friends and neighbours and a study of closed-circuit television footage obtained from premises near Ganesan’s rented home for the period before his body was found.

“We did not say that it is a case of murder,” said Aravind Gandhi, a close friend of Ganesan’s who is a resident doctor at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. “But our request to the police was that they should at least be open to possibilities other than suicide.”

Ganesan’s friends claimed that the police had refused to share the autopsy report with them – which senior police officers in south district refused to comment upon – and that it was only made available to the family after they approached a Delhi court.

“The family received the autopsy report recently and that too after they approached a court,” said Gandhi. “Now if the police still fail to take their investigation beyond the suicide angle, it will only end up strengthening our demand for intervention by some higher authority."