The families of 12 persons, out of the 158 killed in the May 22 Air India Express crash, will never get the opportunity to perform the last rites of their departed kin as per their faiths.
The final DNA report, received by the district administration on Tuesday, has concluded that the DNA of 11 bodies in the custody of the district administration does not match samples provided by the claimants.
To begin with, the district administration had 22 unidentified bodies. The first report, which arrived on May 26, identified nine of 10 bodies. Another body was identified on May 28, and taking the one body from the May 26 report into account, 12 bodies remained unidentified.
In its latest report, the Hyderabad-based Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) said: “It is certified from the DNA profiling results that the 11 bodies' remains are not related to any of the 34 claimants whose blood samples were used for analysis and comparison.” (The 34 claimants belonged to 22 families.)
Addressing a press conference late on Tuesday, in-charge Deputy Commissioner S.A. Prabhakar Sharma said: “The district administration will now take over the responsibility of performing the last rites of the 12 unidentified persons as per the power granted to it under the Disaster Management Act 2005.” He said the bodies will be buried and not cremated to provide for further legal recourse such as exhumation.
The news left the families that have no bodies to claim crestfallen. Speaking to The Hindu, Abdul Aziz, whose 28-year-old brother Mohammed Ismael died in the crash, said the family had not seen Ismael for three years.
“He decided to come home to meet us after a lot of coaxing. Now we don't even get to see his body,” Mr. Aziz said.
Points to mix-up
Conceding that the latest DNA results point to a horrible mix-up, where some people have taken away bodies that belonged to others, Mr. Sharma said there was extreme pressure on the district administration on the day of the crash.
Commenting on the confusion, he said: “At that point we found it inhuman to question the claims of the distraught families.”
Commissioner of Police Seemanth Kumar Singh, also present at the press conference, said the present situation would not come in the way of the compensation process.
“All 158 passengers killed in the crash will get death certificates,” Mr. Singh said, adding that the district police have maintained all records of those who have taken away bodies.