Blood samples from armed forces personnel at highest risk of death and mutilation are being collected by specially trained medical officers. At Armed Forces Medical College, samples are being bar coded and preserved to generate DNA profiles that will be invaluable to identify the deceased personnel.
The identity of each soldier – specially those deployed in the forward and high-risk areas – is critical in cases of deaths at the battlefield or in action. DNA profiling provides the most reliable method for identification of mutilated bodies and body parts and while the armed forces DNA profiling centre and repository was set up at AFMC in 2012, the actual process of sample collection has started from September last year, Air Marshal C K Ranjan, Commandant of Armed Forces Medical College said. A detailed standard operating procedure has been formulated for the creation of the first DNA repository, he said.
Col Abhijit Rudra, Professor and Head of Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at AFMC said blood samples were being collected on Flanders Tech Associates (FTA) cards at 63 centres. Work has been completed at 7 centres. At least 28 officers from the Army, 8 from the Navy and 43 from the IAF have been provided training. DNA samples are preserved on FTA cards and are now being received in the armed forces DNA repository.
While the target is to set up DNA profiles for 1.2 million personnel in the armed forces, it is an ambitious task and has to be carefully executed, AFMC officers said. A limit has been put on collection by the medical officers to just five in a day. While the cost of one FTA card is Rs 550, the entire cost of generating a DNA profile is estimated at Rs 6-7000. During the first phase samples are being collected from paratroopers, NSG, special forces, army aviators, submariners, naval aviators and pilots.