The government railway police (GRP) have started collecting DNA samples from unidentified bodies found on railway premises so that their identities are not lost in case a relative or friend comes looking for them some day. Until this year, the practice was to retain the person’s clothes and photograph the body before conducting the last rites in seven or eight days.
About 3,208 people died on railway premises in 2016, of which the GRP managed to identify and return the bodies of 2,177 to their families. Despite this, 1,031 or 32% of bodies remained unidentified. This number was 1,017 in 2015 and 1,091 in 2014. There are 88 identified bodies already this year.
Now with the possibility of DNA testing, more missing-person cases could be solved, meaning fewer families would have to suffer the agony of never knowing what happened to their loved ones.
In case a relative comes forward, the GRP will check its records of photos, descriptions and clothes of the deceased. If none prove helpful a DNA analysis will conducted at the Forensic Science Laboratory, Kalina.
The railway police already have the SHODH portal [http://%28www.shodh.gov.in/](www.shodh.gov.in), which has details of all unidentified bodies found on railway premises in the past five to six years. It enables people to search for their missing relatives or friends online, without having to visit police stations, hospitals and mortuaries.
Mumbai GRP commissioner Niket Kaushik confirmed that his team has started retaining DNA samples from unidentified bodies since the start of the year.
A Mumbai police officer, who did not wished to be named, said, “If the government allows us access to the Aadhar card database then we can use it to find the identity of the deceased through the person’s fingerprints.” It is learnt that the GRP is also is exploring the possibility of using Aadhar card details to identify dead bodies.