Forensic Science A misplaced priority in J&K State

Sunny Dua
Scene: 1
Place: United States of America (USA)
Crime: Woman murdered at her home.
Modus Operandi: After hitting the woman with sharp edged weapon, her husband dumps the body in trashcan miles away from his home and sets it ablaze.
Evidences: Weapon of offense thrown in a lake. Body charred beyond recognition. No evidence traced.
After crime scene: Husband leaves state only to settle at a different place.
This is what happened to a lady in US about whom her relatives had lodged a missing report after they failed to trace her. The police after investigations find nothing at her home and searches for her husband. Traced in another state miles away from where he used to live, he shows ignorance and cites domestic issues as main reason of him leaving home only to settle away from home.
The first suspect obviously was husband and after questioning he was allowed to leave the police station. Police however keeps an eye on his activities and doesn’t let him go out of sight even for a second during investigation. He sounds normal and never does anything that could enable cops to zero in on him for the crime. After having exhausted all their measures police doesn’t close the case but waits for some clues – rather some miracle to happen.
Scene 2:
Place: United States of America (USA)
A call at 911 (USA’s emergency number) informs police about remains of a charred body probably that of a human. Separate set of policemen investigate this crime but fail to get any clue about the body. The criminal had used gasoline along with other material to burn down the body to ashes. Police fails to get any clue or evidence that could lead them to identification of the deceased.
Two different crime scenes at two different places but police remained clueless. Finally cops decide to wind up second case that of charred body but before that calls for their forensic photographer who clicks the pictures of remains of the body (nothing but ash) and develops the pictures in his laboratory. What naked eye couldn’t detect at ground zero high resolution photographs in forensic lab find out lying in the ash. The photographer finds a half-burnt tooth in the ash-heap and calls police.
End Result: The tooth is taken to laboratory and on cutting it into two halves forensic experts find jelly like substance in it worth using for conducting DNA test. That simple yet important evidence enables scientists to find DNA and after matching it with relatives of deceased, the body is finally identified as that of murdered woman. The cops who were keeping an eye on the suspect zero in on to him and after arresting him produce the killer in the court where he is unable to defend himself and succumbs to all evidences and links collected and gathered by forensic experts.
This is what police in Jammu and Kashmir intends to do. The question is – How? Officials are working on modalities to match these standards in years to come. It was only during recent past that Director General of Police (DGP), Dr. S. P. Vaid while expecting his officers to come up with long term perspective planning in order to bring modernization in police working had desired to enhance professional capabilities in public service primarily by increasing dependency on forensic science. Though FSL in J&K had cared to dispose off about 300 cases in past over two months; there’s a lot that needs to be done to upgrade laboratories so that we too can claim of settling certain cases and boast of meritorious services like DNA profiling or Cyber Crime in J&K State.
Though forensic labs in J&K are working to their optimum capacities yet certain shortcomings don’t let them investigate crimes based on physiology, blood stain pattern analysis, dentistry, DNA profiling, pathology, podiatry, toxicology, psychiatry, psychology, body identification, facial reconstruction, fingerprint analysis, firearm examination, footwear evidence, forensic arts, photography video analysis or audio analysis which is why we don’t have anything to boast about or worth publication. Collection, preservation and analysis of evidence during the course of investigation is what is needed in a state like Jammu and Kashmir where even phone calls, provocative text messages or viral videos of social media create quite a furore.
We too can give reference of several cases in our state which would have been solved through forensic science but since we lack on several fronts many criminals walk away free. Without feeling ashamed we must admit that we lack standardized forensic practices and once we expertise ourselves we will definitely be comfortable in establishing whether a person has been killed or has committed suicide. Since we intend to make criminal investigations more evidence-based and rational we need to have all sort of forensic labs including polygraph tests.
Way back in 90s some modern and model police stations were established in the state. Ever since then nothing much has been done on the similar front. There were intentions to upgrade rest of the police stations to match standards of those model police stations but nothing happened. Had the remaining police stations been also upgraded to match model standards process of investigations too would have seen a positive change.
Take the example of Jammu and Kashmir Bank Ltd. After upgrading its one branch into a model financial centre, the bank management converted all its branches to match that similar standard wherein all modern day technologies to upgrade themselves in shortest possible time span were put in use besides the clients were looked after well. The bank today can boost of having equal physical and financial standards in all its branches scattered all over the country. However, police stations in many far off areas still lack even the basic minimum required infrastructure.
Once the police stations across the length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir are modernised they too can put in use forensic science in investigating crimes. Way back in 90s this Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Jammu was in news for all the wrong reason. It had virtually become a den of social and moral corruption wherein condoms and all other articles of sexual pleasures had tumbled out of cupboards of the senior most officials of this department putting everyone to shame. Now that the department has been streamlined and those corrupt officials don’t exist on scene, it’s high time forensic science is best put to use.
The state gets millions of rupees as Security Related Expenditure (SRE) but when it comes to modernization of Forensic Science (FS), which is imperative to improve the functioning of laboratories and utilize the capabilities of scientists, much is yet to come. Demonetisation is sure to come as a handy in dealing with crimes. More the use of e-money more it will be easy for police to record criminals’ trails. Modernisation of toll plazas and e-money are sure to leave a trail of evidences behind in case a criminal tries to flee state. Most of the modern day complaints now pour in from users of social networking sites for which police department not only needs modern electronic equipments but qualified engineers and scientists who could build a strong network to trace origin of crime and provide every assistance to the agencies in bringing the culprits to justice.