Updated: June 30, 2022 8:25:14 am
More than a month after 27 people died in a massive fire at a commercial building in Outer Delhi’s Mundka, relatives and police personnel conducted the last rites of 42-year-old Geeta Devi in Delhi on Tuesday. Geeta was the only victim whose DNA had not matched with her relatives.
On May 13, a massive fire broke out at a five-storeyed building in Mundka. Nearly 120 people were trapped in the fire and 27 of them succumbed to the burn injuries. Since most bodies were charred and couldn’t be recognised, DNA profiling tests were conducted to ascertain the identities of the dead.
While other families rushed to the mortuary in search of kin, nobody from Geeta’s family showed up. It took police more than six days to trace Geeta’s family in Bihar’s Jhikarua Village.
A police officer told The Indian Express “We have been working with forensic science lab to match DNAs and send bodies to families. It was difficult as tests took time and families were anxiously waiting. In Geeta’s case, nobody came to us. We had to trace her landlady in Delhi.”
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Geeta worked as a helper at the building where electronic devices, CCTVs and other surveillance equipment were packed and sold. She had been living with her husband in Mundka till his death in 2018.
Geeta’s landlady and friend Anita said, “We tried to identify the body, but it was charred. Police asked us about DNA tests but we did not know her relatives as she never used to speak about them. She was like a sister. We were ready to perform her final rites, but police asked us to wait.”
At Geeta’s rented accommodation, police found her phone and documents. A team traced Geeta’s brother Mantu Kumar and collected his blood sample.
Sameer Sharma, DCP (Outer) said the case was challenging as Mantu’s DNA didn’t match. Police then asked other siblings and Geeta’s relatives to come to Delhi and collected their blood samples, but none of them matched.
“All other bodies’ DNA had matched with families by then. On June 27, her sample matched with her sister’s. A day later, the family and police conducted the last rites at a crematorium in Sultanpuri,” added DCP Sharma.
At the crematorium, while police helped with the last rites, only a few family members were seen. Mantu said, “Geeta didi left home a decade back because parents forced her to get married, after which we met hardly 6-7 times. I saw her six months back for the last time. She was our eldest sister. She started her life in Delhi on her own and never asked for help. Even after her husband’s death, she didn’t come back. I came to know about the death 2-3 days after the fire. It’s been difficult…”
Geeta’s family said they had to make multiple trips to Delhi for the DNA tests and had to wait for weeks for the results.
Geeta’s sister Manita said, “We wish we had spent more time with her. She mostly kept to herself…”
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