Sunday, 6 October 2013

Tamil Nadu: Police turn to technology to aid identification of unidentified railway victims

Thousands of people whose bodies were found on railway track across Southern Railway remain unidentified. Of the 23,717 people who were found dead since 2003, the identity of as many as 9,118 is yet to be established.

The victims, including hundreds of women, are suspected to have either committed suicide or had an accidental fall, though police do not rule out other possibilities.

In many cases, the bodies were mutilated beyond recognition leaving only the clothes and identification marks for detection. Since bodies remained unclaimed, investigators preserved the skull or thigh bone and disposed them of with the help of NGOs. However, post-mortem and other mandatory formalities are carried out, police sources said.

“A detailed investigation is done whenever a body is found on the railway track. Besides making enquiries in the locality, we send photographs to police headquarters in all States for verification. Wide publicity is given in the media…when a person is found missing, the family should also check with the railway police,” Additional Director-General of Police (Railways) R. Sekar said.

Going by statistics, in the last nine months alone 2,015 bodies were found on track of which 631 remain unidentified. In a number of cases, the victims were senior citizens.

“It is possible that they belong to some other state and came to Tamil Nadu on a pilgrimage or in search of employment. Death due to accidental fall or some other reason cannot be ruled out. Of late, we are coming across many cases of youth getting hit by trains between Chennai Egmore and Tambaram stretch,” a police official said.

ADGP/Director, State Crime Records Bureau, Asish Bengra said the photographs of missing persons and unidentified bodies were regularly updated on the police website.

“In 2012-13, more than 40 cases of missing persons were solved after family/friends of victims identified photographs on the website and informed the police,” he said.

The SCRB was using software developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to match the profile of missing persons with those of unclaimed or unidentified bodies.

“We have a web cell in all districts to do this profiling on a regular basis. The data is also shared with the National Crime Records Bureau for analysis at their end,” he said.

In a novel initiative, the Dharmapuri police organised camps where complaints in man/woman missing cases are shown photographs of unclaimed/unidentified bodies on large screens.

At least a dozen cases reported in Salem and Dharmapuri districts were solved when the complainants identified the deceased persons, police sources added.

Sunday 6 October 2013


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