Before the first lot of mass cremations of the Uttarakhand flash flood victims on Wednesday, the government is getting ready to undertake one of its biggest DNA profiling of the dead.
DNA profiles are encrypted sets of numbers that reflect a person’s DNA makeup and can be used as an identifier.
In a situation where bodies are decomposed beyond recognition, washed away or missing, this will possibly be the only way family and friends of victims find closure. A team of 42 forensic experts and scientists headed for Kedarnath on Tuesday and more are expected to join in a day or two as the weather clears. But the biggest challenge is to transport, collect and preserve body cells for DNA profiling for such a large number of people in a far-flung area.
For now, however, relatives of the missing are grasping at straws.
Take the case of Venkatesh Lenka, 24, from Chhattisgarh.
Lenka’s parents and grandmother were putting up at a dharmashala in Kedarnath when she last heard from them on June 16. Every day since she arrived in Dehradun, Lenka has been running from pillar to post trying to trace her lost family along with hundreds of others.
While many of them are frequenting the Doon helidrome daily with photographs of missing relatives, there are some who have embarked on a search operation on their own.
But with every passing day their hopes wane. Kishore Johari from Delhi, six of whose family members are missing, says, “I went up to Guptkashi and Fata (places en route Kedarnath) but couldn’t find my family. I need a miracle.”
Around 882 unidentified bodies are lying across the state, an and a huge pile of decaying bodies is lying in Kedarnath, said an official.