As time goes by, the task of establishing the identities of the dead — whose bones were found near Moninder Singh Pandher's house in Noida — is becoming more and more difficult. Sources at the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad, where the bone samples are to be sent, told Hindustan Times that success in identifying the dead is not guaranteed.
Sources added if the samples are not in good condition the tests could fail as the bones were lying dumped in a sewage drain for a few to several months.
Sources in the CBI say that the investigations into the Nithari serial killings "depend largely on the outcome of the DNA profiling of the bones found near Pandher's house." Meanwhile, scientists say delay in sending the bone samples is making the task ahead even more difficult.
"We will have to conduct a lot of experiments before we can conclusively say that the identity of the dead can be established from the bone samples that we are receiving. Only after the experiments succeed we will know whether we can get the DNA profiles of the victims from these bones," sources at the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, CDFD, said.
The DNA profiling will be done at this laboratory. "As it is bones are not the easiest ways of establishing the DNA profile of a body. Once we get the samples we will have to ascertain whether those are useful or not. Lying in the drain for so long, the bones would have been attacked by bacteria and other micro-organisms," sources at the laboratory added.
In any case, even if the preliminary experiments at the laboratory are a success, it could take several months to identify the dead and match them with their parents' DNA. CDFD had earlier handled forensic evidence from the mass graves discovered at Gujarat. "It took us around three months to carry out the experiments in that case. That time we had received around 20 samples. This time it could take us six months if the number is indeed as large as 40," Dr J Gauri Shankar, Director CDFD said. He confirmed that delaying the experiments could cause degradation of the bones collected by the police in the Noida killings case.
The first batch of skeletal remains was fished out from the drain behind D5, Sector 31, in the last week of December, 2006. The Gautam Budh Nagar police had contacted CDFD for sending these samples over and collected blood samples of parents whose children had gone missing for DNA matching. "Once the case was transferred to the CBI, we handed over the forensic evidence and the blood samples we had collected to the CBI," SSP RKS Rathore said.
Sources in the CBI said more samples are being collected and it won't be till the end of January that these will be sent to CDFD.