Inside Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital’s mortuary, the unidentifiable charred remains of a fire victim have been kept in cold storage. Of the 17 dead, this is the only body that remains to be identified.
Outside, the family of hotel supervisor Lal Chand, the only person missing since the fire, insists on a DNA test of the remains to ascertain the body is indeed his.
Faced with the peculiar situation, authorities will now conduct the DNA test, which is expected to take three-four days.
“The process is not easy. We have preserved the tissues from his body as of now. We will take blood samples of his wife and son, and check whether these match with the DNA from the body. The process will take time,” said a senior doctor from the hospital.
Under the process, the samples are first sent to Forensic Science Laboratories for testing. “Even FSL labs are not particularly well-equipped to perform DNA tests quickly. There is a single lab in Rohini,” said the doctor.
As family members of other victims grieved about those they had lost, Chand’s family still held onto some hope. They spent the morning running from one hospital to another, expecting to find Chand. From BLK Hospital to Lady Hardinge Medical College, from emergency wards to mortuaries.
Sitting outside the RML mortuary, Chand’s son Himanshu Thakur, who has been desperately looking for his father since the fire broke out, said: “The body they have shown us is beyond recognition. There is nothing on the body that can be related with my father. We can’t take it home. We have requested the police to start the process for DNA verification.”
Every morning, Himanshu would cross the hotel on his way to college. At 8 am on Tuesday, he saw the building up in flames, sending the family into a panic.
At the RML mortuary immediately after the fire, Tulsi Ram, Chand’s brother, had told police: “No birthmark, no jewellery, height 5’4.” He had also tried to match photos of his brother on his phone to those of charred faces on an officer’s phone, but in vain.
“I can’t find him or the owner of the hotel. My brother worked there for 25 years and was on the night shift,” said Ram.
Unable to find closure, the family returned to their Paharganj home on Wednesday evening. “We are still praying he is safe somewhere,” said Manish, a family friend.
With inputs from Somya Lakhani