Aadhaar helps in identifying unidentified bodies

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Jan 2018 10:43:50


Staff Reporter,

Someone said that every man in the world is born with an identity and deserves to die with the same. Unfortunately, increasing population has put the identity of Indians at stake. Every year, thousands of unidentified dead bodies recovered, where inquest is carried out throughout India. Mostly, the homeless street dwellers of the city form a substantial portion of the unfortunate victims.

In the year 2015 alone, 34,592 unknown dead bodies were recovered all over India, where Maharashtra was the leading state with 6,185 cases. Shockingly, more than 100 bodies are declared unidentified in India of which 17 per day in Maharashtra alone.

As the methods currently used to ensure identification of unidentified victims is insufficient, most of unknown bodies are decomposed with the tag of unidentified stuff.
A team of medical practitioners from the Department of Community Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Wardha under the leadership of Dr Ravindra Kumar Vishnoi, ex-Assistant Superintendent of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College, Jabalpur, Dr Vasant Wagh and Dr Mahesh Kumar Jain assessed the burden over the concerned departments to establish the unidentified body’s identity and prepared an algorithm for easy, early and correct identification of the bodies.

Dr Vishnoi himself has gone through a psychological and emotional trauma after missing his elder brother and his family during
Kedarnath disaster (Uttrakhand in June 2013) and is still clueless about their whereabouts. While talking to ‘The Hitavada’, Dr Vishnoi expressed that the pain and misery does not end with death. The agony of losing the dear ones leaves an irreparable mark and the family faces additional anguish if body is not recovered and remain in constant dilemma about the later’s status.

The identification of dead, if unknown, has legal significance for inheritance and insurance that affect social and financial status of family members. In a developing country like India, ineffectiveness to prove identity is a major barrier preventing the deprived people from accessing benefits and subsidies. Both the private and public sectors, throughout the nation, require proof of identity before providing individuals with service.

According to Dr Vishnoi, main objectives behind the study were to evaluate the burden of unknown dead victims in India, especially, in Maharashtra and to analyse available identification system in India. Whenever a body is discovered, the concerned departments come into action to find out the cause of death and identity of the victims in unknown cases. But despite making sincere efforts, 1,83,659 unknown bodies were recovered in India between 2011 and 2015, where Maharashtra led all the states and union territories with 6,185.

At present, identification process involves visual and other accustomed means like relatives looking at the victim’s remains, systematic comparisons between the findings of the ante and post-mortem data, scientific parameters. Apart from this, identity cards issued by numerous Government and non-government agencies are also used to establish identity. However, the identity documents in physical form with the victims are not always found especially when the intention behind death was criminal. Similarly, identification of mutilated body is time consuming and very difficult.

He added that out of all the available identification documents issued in India, only Aadhaar is utilising finger prints of all ten fingers of both hands, Iris scan of both eyes along with photo identification and information regarding age and address before issuing card by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

“Because of its vast acceptability as 88 percent population in India, including 94 percent in Maharashtra, are enrolled under Aadhaar and demographic and biometric database, which is stored in centralised database in electronic form, Aadhaar is the only document which helps to establish identity of unknown bodies,” he concluded.