Three weeks after Odisha train crash, kin still await DNA reports

The kin of the victims said they would not have to wait here for days and suffer if the officials could provide proper information on the helpline number.
Belongings of passengers trapped under the derailed compartments in Balasore, Odisha. (Photo | Debadatta Mallick, EPS)
Belongings of passengers trapped under the derailed compartments in Balasore, Odisha. (Photo | Debadatta Mallick, EPS)

BHUBANESWAR: There is no end to the agony of kin of Odisha train tragedy victims. They have been anxiously waiting for DNA test reports to claim unidentified bodies even three weeks after the tragic crash that claimed 292 lives and left over 900 injured.

Uncertainty prevails over arrival of test reports from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), New Delhi, as the authorities of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar and Indian Railways are also unsure when the reports would be available.

As 81 bodies of the train crash victims stored in containers at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar still remain unidentified, crestfallen family members have no other option but to spend sleepless nights waiting for the reports. With no information on the date when the cross-matching will be done, the distressed families said, the delay is even more painful as they are even unable to perform last rites of their near and dear ones in due time.

At a guest house, nearly one km away from AIIMS campus, Basanti Devi of Bari Ballia village in Begusarai district of Bihar has been waiting for DNA cross-matching reports with a hope to get the body of her husband Yogendra Paswan (41), a contract labourer. He was killed in the accident at Bahanaga Bazar while returning home in Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express.

Basanti Devi (left) and her children wait for
DNA report at AIIMS | Express

Along with her 10-year-old son Ankush and brother Surendra Paswan, Basanti is camping here for the second time. After providing the DNA sample on June 10, they had left for home and again reached here two days back as the hospital authorities had assured them that the report would reach in a week to 10 days.

Ankush’s blood sample has been sent for DNA cross-matching. “We had recognised the body from his existing half broken right hand middle finger and bent thumb toe. But the officials did not give us the body as another family have also claimed it. They insisted on a DNA test. Now no one is confirming when the report will come,” said Basanti.

With fear and hope, 35 persons are camping at the guest house while 15 others have left for home due to delay in arrival of DNA reports. Like Basanti, Rajkali Devi from Sahebganj in Bihar is also bearing the brunt of the delay. With her two sons, she also waits for the cross-matching report. Her husband Harendra Majhi (40) was among three persons, who were heading for Chennai in Coromandel Express and killed in the crash. The only breadwinner of the family, Harendra had to migrate to work so that he could earn a few thousand and treat his wife’s broken hand.  

“With the broken hand, I am now searching for his body. My elder son gave his blood sample for the DNA test on June 7. Thereafter we left home and when we contacted the helpline, the responder insisted that we come to AIIMS for the report. We have been here again since Thursday. No one is giving a satisfactory reply. For how long will we stay here?” Rajkali said breaking down in tears.

The kin of the victims said they would not have to wait here for days and suffer if the officials could provide proper information on the helpline number.The AIIMS has so far sent DNA samples of 84 persons to the CFSL for cross-matching. Though the officials have been insisting on profiling 12 to 15 bodies having multiple claimants in the first phase, they are also not sure when the reports will be available.

Railway officials said since the case is under investigation by the CBI, they are not in a position to comment. AIIMS executive director Dr Ashutosh Biswas said he is hopeful of getting the DNA reports soon. “Though the lab has not informed us the date when they will send the reports, but we expect to get it at the earliest,” he told TNIE

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