Railway Police mulls using Aadhaar to track unidentified victims

Writes to UIDAI to explore if it can match victims’ fingerprint scans with biometrics database

Updated - June 30, 2019 08:15 am IST

Published - June 30, 2019 01:05 am IST - Mumbai

 So far in 2019, a little over 1,100 accidental deaths have been registered across the Mumbai suburban network.>File phot

So far in 2019, a little over 1,100 accidental deaths have been registered across the Mumbai suburban network.>File phot

Nearly 30% of the people who die in train-related accidents on the Mumbai suburban railway network remain unidentified, leaving police officials unable to trace their next of kin. To identify the victims and provide closure to families who have lost their loved ones, the Government Railway Police (GRP) is planning to match fingerprint scans of the victims with the Aadhaar database.

Ravindra Sengaonkar, Commissioner, GRP, Mumbai, said they are planning to write to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to explore if this can be done. Mr. Sengaonkar, who recently took charge, said that in many cases the victim’s personal belongings are missing by the time the police reach the spot. “Most people carry at least a mobile phone and some form of identification. This helps us reach out to the victims’ families,” he said.

GRP officials said the nature of track deaths is such that the victims are often dismembered, making identification even harder.

However, the UIDAI, in February, had told the Delhi High Court that it did not collect biometric information suitable for forensic purposes and thus Aadhaar could not be used to identify bodies. It had submitted an affidavit to this effect in reply to a plea seeking to use UIDAI data to identify bodies.

Nearly 3,505 accidental deaths were recorded on the tracks in 2015, and the number came down to 2,734 in 2018. So far in 2019, railway officials said a little over 1,100 accidental deaths have been registered across the suburban network.

Mr. Sengaonkar said they are constantly making efforts to reduce the number of track deaths and are going to increase patrolling at areas where boundary walls are broken or missing. He emphasised that people need to understand that trespassing is fatal.

The GRP is also planning to write to mobile phone companies to block phones which have been stolen by tracing their IMEI numbers. The IMEI number is a unique set of 15 digits used to identify and potentially trace the phone. Senior police officials also said that while in many cases mobile thieves have managed to change the IMEI number of the phone, the move will help curb mobile thefts to a fair extent.

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