BHUBANESWAR: Three months after the tragic train crash at Bahanaga in Balasore district that claimed 296 lives and left over 900 injured, 28 bodies still remain unclaimed. With the condition of the bodies stored in a container at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar deteriorating due to delayed embalming, the hospital authorities are in dark over their disposal as neither the state government nor the Centre have yet taken any decision in this regard.
AIIMS had received 162 bodies in two phases from the temporary morgue at the accident spot and different hospitals where the injured were treated. It started collecting DNA samples after 81 of those bodies remained unidentified and some had multiple claimants. While 53 bodies have already been handed over to the kin of the deceased after DNA cross-matching, there are no claimants for 28. DNA profiling of around 112 samples collected from claimants have already been conducted and there are no samples pending for cross-matching.
Sources said since no samples for DNA cross-matching are pending at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory at Delhi and hardly any kin of the deceased is coming to claim bodies, there is little chance that the bodies left out would be identified.
“The bodies now stored in the container are mostly defaced or mutilated. Some of the bodies do not have heads and some have only parts like hands and legs. It is difficult to identify the bodies in such a condition,” said an AIIMS official.
The Ministry of Railways has already issued five advertisements urging people to come forward for DNA cross-matching. The last time the newspaper advertisement was issued was on August 9.
“Only one sample was collected for DNA matching since then and it did not match. After the last body from Bihar matched his mother’s sample, there is no match for other bodies. We are verifying the condition of bodies at regular intervals to prevent further deterioration,” he said.
As most of the unclaimed bodies are of migrant labourers from the remote areas of northern West Bengal bordering Bangladesh and they had come alone in search of work, sources said it is unlikely that there would be any claimant for the bodies after three months.
Even as there are no takers for the bodies and the police manual states unclaimed bodies should be disposed of within 30 days, the government is undecided over the disposal of corpses as the case is under CBI investigation. Though an inter-ministerial decision was to be taken on the modalities to dispose of the unidentified and unclaimed bodies, the delay in decision is making things murkier.
Executive director of AIIMS Dr Ashutosh Biswas said no agency alone can take a decision on a sensitive matter like this. “The Centre and state government will jointly take a call. We hope a decision on disposal of the bodies will be taken soon,” he added.