In order to authenticate the identification of bodies and keep fake claimants at bay, the Odisha Government on June 5 started conducting DNA sampling in certain doubtful cases before handing over the mortal remains of train accident victims to genuine relatives.
The decision was taken after two different families from Bihar's Bhagalpur claimed one body as that of their relative. The body was beyond recognition, being severely mutilated and face disfigured.
Unable to decide whom the body should be handed over to, the State Government decided to conduct DNA sampling of the claimants, and to make it a general procedure in such doubtful cases.
"We will hand over the body only if the DNA matches. We suspect some people might be making false claims over bodies because of the hefty compensation from the Railways and the respective State Governments," an official said.
"The family members, relatives or friends who are not able to identify the deceased body in the Balasore train accident case can contact +918280346629 for DNA sampling tests," another official at the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) help centre said.
Stating that a DNA testing centre is now functional in AIIMS Bhubaneswar, the official said the family members can give samples for DNA testing.
"Only if the DNA samples match, the authenticated person will be handed over the body," he said.
Meanwhile, officials at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar came across an incident wherein a woman from Badamba area in Cuttack district made a claim over a body.
She was found crying non-stop but when the officials contacted the police in Badamba, they found out that no one from the area was travelling in any of the ill-fated trains.
"By the time we decided to call the police, the woman had left, confirming our doubts," an official of the medical establishment said.
Photographs and videos of relatives receiving the bodies of their kin were also taken as a precautionary measure to avoid controversies later.
Besides, Chief Secretary P.K. Jena said the government will also conduct DNA sampling of unclaimed bodies before cremating those after 72 hours after the accident.
"As per the law, the government can cremate unclaimed bodies after 48 hours. But we are keeping those for more time so that their families in different States can turn up. In cases where relatives don't come for claiming the bodies, we will cremate those after keeping DNA samples for future use, if any," Mr. Jena said.