Advanced forensic labs for speedy probe of crime against women: Maneka

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New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) To accelerate criminal investigations of crimes against women, India’s first advanced DNA forensic laboratory will come up in Chandigarh and five more such labs will be set up in Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati, Pune and Bhopal in the next three months, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said on Friday.

“Forensic analysis plays a critical role in criminal investigation and the Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory in the Central Forensic Science Lab (CFSL), Chandigarh campus will contribute in addressing the gap in forensic DNA analysis of pending sexual assault cases in the country.

“The current sample storage capacity of CFSL is less than 160 cases per year and Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory is estimated to increase the capacity to 2,000 cases per year in Chandigarh alone,” she said in a statement.

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Elaborating on the project, which is in a joint effort with Union Home Ministry, Gandhi said that the lab is being set up as a model forensic lab and would be replicated in other parts of the country, bringing the total minimum annual capacity of the labs to 50,000 cases.

Underscoring the importance of the forensics in nabbing the culprits in sexual assault cases, she said that special forensic kits for rape would be distributed to all police stations and hospitals by the July.

“Forensic rape kits are currently with CFSL Chandigarh for validation. These inviolable kits will be used for providing uncontaminated evidence and would contain a complete list of evidence/samples to be collected along with the equipment required to collect the evidence,” she added.

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According to a ministry statement, the Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory would have four units are address cases related to women – a Sexual Assault and Homicide unit; Paternity unit; Human Identification unit and a Mitochondrial unit.

“Apart from the sexual assault and homicide unit, the other three units are interlinked and will work to examine cases related to crime against women. While paternity unit is essential to solving cases related to criminal paternity, gender selection and child swapping in hospitals, the human identification unit is important in cases of missing person or children.

“Mitochondrial unit will conduct mitochondrial DNA analysis in cases where regular Nuclear DNA analysis is not possible such as in case of highly degraded samples. The mitochondrial unit can also be used to better explore family relationships,” it said.

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At present, there are six Central Forensic Science Labs (CFSLs) in Chandigarh, Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Bhopal and one State Forensic Science Lab in each state/union territory. These labs are responsible for conducting forensic analysis of all cases in the country including sexual assault, criminal paternity and homicide.

–IANS

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