The Indian Army will start DNA profiling of its soldiers this year for their identification in case of mutilation of bodies during an operation, attack or mishap.
"We will begin DNA profiling of soldiers from this year as the profiling centre and data bank are almost ready," Lieutenant General Naresh Kumar, Commandant of Army Hospital Research and Referral, said.
Being set up at the Department of Forensic Medicine in Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, the centre will collect the blood samples of the troops who are involved in hazardous tasks including fighting militancy and store them in a DNA data bank.
The DNA profiling centre is being established to help in identification of bodies mutilated beyond recognition.
"Now that this centre and DNA data bank are almost ready to take off, we will be able to easily recognise the mutilated dead bodies that we get during war time, from an episode of avalanches or from blast sites.
"In such situations, we sometimes end up getting just a body part making it difficult for us to identify the jawan we lost and even to conclude the number of casualties that have occurred in such episodes," Major General Mandeep Singh, ADG, Medical Research, Armed Forces Medical Services, said.
"We are contemplating introducing the DNA profiling for our fresh recruits. But first we will try its efficacy with a sample population in Pune," Major General Singh said.
He said, "We lost many of our people in the Kashmir ammunition depot blast in 2007. Recognition of the bodies was a difficult task because the blast tore them apart. We got body pieces. If we had a data bank, recognising the dead would have been easier."
The need for DNA profiling was felt in the United States after the 9/11 attacks.
With regard to the US military, all enlisted and commissioned military personnel must provide blood samples which are preserved on special blood spot cards that are then stored, as the modern 'dog tags', for use in the event of an individual being killed, injured or missing in action, according to a Harvard Medical College paper.
The blood spot cards provide a source of a reference DNA sample to be used in identification of "the unknown soldier", or as in the case of the 9/11 Pentagon attack, to return the remains of the victims to their families.