Missing toddler: Portrait of suspects is no help

Published Nov 17, 2013, 5:11 pm IST
Updated Mar 18, 2019, 6:40 pm IST
Most people unable to remember facial features of the suspects.

Hyderabad: Are portraits helpful in identifying suspects? The portraits are based on the descriptions given by eye-witnesses who see them for a few seconds. Recounting the complete facial features or identifying a certain mark is not possible in these few seconds for most eye-witnesses who come forward to give info for making a sketch.

The recent case of abduction of a 5-day-old baby has shown that the eye-witness Shehnaz Begum had a tough time telling portrait makers the exact features of the abudctor. A senior officer said, “She merely kept on saying that she was very fat. But what does that mean. She had chubby cheeks, heavy set of eyes, thick eye-brows and thick lips. But significant details were missing. It took a long time for the witness to recall the details.”


There are only three portrait makers in the police. The artist gave various options before finalising the sketch.

A officer explained, “In this case we had only the face. No description of hair, no other clues as the woman was in burqa. Also Shehnaz had just got up from sleep and saw her going out. This means it was a passing sight and not a face-to-face encounter which makes things difficult.”

ACP (Crime) Sandeep Shandilya says, “We have an excellent software to make portraits. But the problem is that most people who have seen the accused are not able to recall details. Hence we have to rely on a generalised sketch. The portraits have helped us nab some people but we don’t keep records of that.”


In most of the cases, including the recent Dilsukhnagar blasts, the police questioned the injured in the hospitals to get some clue from them of the person who may have placed the bomb. But none of them were able to give accurate details about the culprits.

Neurologists Dr Padma V explained, “Memory depends on the age of the person, ability to recall and most importantly the observation skills of the person. Most people do not possess good observation skills. When the memory tests with photographs are done to spot the differences, some people spot in one go while some others can spot only one or two in that time limit. Hence it becomes very difficult for the individual who is narrating the sketch and for the portrait artist to make what probably he/she may have observed in those few seconds.”


Given these circumstances, the portraits have become a chance factors for the police as it works only if the witness is able to give exact description otherwise it is merely a generalized feature which may merely give them multiple leads.

No trace of stolen 5-day-old baby

Hyderabad: There is no trace of the stolen baby girl and the police are eagerly awaiting the DNA report of the child that was found in Gachibowli.

The DNA report claims the Musheer-abad police will give them an exact picture as Dr Farah Khan of Farah Hospital said that the tag on the baby found at Gachibowli was of her hospital. But the police are quiet as the family has refused to accept the ‘found child’ as their baby.


Meanwhile, the two women brought from Mumbai are in police custody and so far no details have emerged from them.

claims the police. While the tenant Shehnaz Begum was taken for identification of the accused there are mixed responses from the police who are not willing to confirm whether she was able to identify the accussed.

Location: Andhra Pradesh