Monday, 11 November 2013

APFSL sets record with relentless work

The Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory (APFSL) had a point to prove in the aftermath of the horrendous Mahbubnagar bus inferno that charred 45 bodies beyond recognition.

Sharada, the in-charge director of the laboratory which will become four decades old the next year, proudly claims, “We had to do the tests under a lot of pressure and we did it in a record time of seven days.”

The government had said the process of DNA testing would take as many as 15 days.

According to the director, her team worked day and night to solve one of the most challenging tasks. “No one had any Deepavali leave or even the weekly offs. We worked relentlessly. In fact, some of us fell ill too but the work did not halt. We were relieved only after all the bodies were identified,” said the in-charge director.

APFSL which mostly investigates crime cases, had to divide its resources into five teams in for this case-collection of clues and samples from the mishap scene, a team working from the lab, one for results and interpretation, one for preparation of DNA report and for dispatch. “In previous cases that we had handled, we could gather clues like clothes, ornaments, etc. Here, we were strictly directed only to consider DNA and not any preconceived notions,” she pointed out.

The lab had to collect as many as 500 to 600 samples and sub-samples from the 42 charred bodies in order to establish their identities. “We could have finished the task much earlier. But, in one case, only one kin had submitted his samples. Hence, once we identified the DNA, we sent it to CDFD for cross checking to do away with any ambiguity,” she stated.

Funds crunch, which almost every government department complains of, according to her was not a major issue with the state government’s timely response. She said that her technicians efficiently utilised available DNA kits and the government also showed no slackness in supplying them adequate resources.

Speaking about the pressure they underwent while investigating one of the gravest accidents, she opined that the initial chaos among families and their pain also served as the impetus for the technicians to speed up the process.

She said the process of collecting the DNA involved breaking the cell wall, then the nuclear membrane, followed by collecting suitable tissues from skin, bones and muscles. This, she said was the only tedious task as most of the bodies were totally charred. “It was a relentless task of 72 hours without breaks for extracting the DNAs. Rest of the things just followed. With this, we have proved that we are prepared to face any such situations,” she stated.

Monday 11 November 2013


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