| Medical experts exhume a body in Panchalthan early in April 2000. Five bodies were exhumed after an alleged ‘fake’ encounter by the Indian security forces. The subsequent forensic tests were carried out at CFSL, Calcutta (AFP).
The Centre has forwarded a proposal to the West Bengal government for setting up an advanced forensic laboratory in the city.
To come up under the aegis of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Calcutta, the institute will offer a range of critical services to investigating agencies. It will also train police officers, organise short-duration programmes for judges and impart training to faculty members of government medical colleges on forensic medicine and biochemistry.
“Use of information technology in criminal activities has gone up these days and so, there is a need for specialised forensic services to crack cases. The institute will provide an entire gamut of services to help the state and Central investigating agencies,” said a senior official of the Union home ministry.
According to the proposal, the Indian Institute of Forensic Sciences will extend its services by providing conclusive evidence in solving cases like murder, sexual assault, bomb blast, cyber crime, and trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances.
CFSL, a wing of the Union home ministry, is a centre of excellence in biological sciences and houses “the only DNA repository in Southeast Asia”. Be it the pig-heart surgery in Guwahati or the Kashmiri security forces’ massacre of civilians in Panchalthan, the centre has cracked the most complex and controversial of cases. “Given the state’s proximity to the borders, recent years have seen a surge in criminal activities. The new institute will help the state government and also the other eastern and Northeastern states in combating criminal activities,” explained the official.
Besides the services that the institute will offer, a detailed account of the training programmes that the centre will conduct for various state government agencies has also been submitted. The annual training cost for the government has been pegged at Rs 1.5 crore. “But we propose to conduct these training programmes for free,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
Though there is no indication about the investment to be made to set up the Indian Institute of Forensic Sciences, officials suggest that budgetary provisions have already been worked out. The Centre has asked for 20 acres on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass from the state government. According to Writers’ Buildings sources, the government has, in principle, agreed to the proposal and will shortly sign a memorandum of understanding with the CFSL.
“Setting up such a centre was always on the agenda of the government,” said V.K. Kashyap, director, CFSL, declining to elaborate.