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Special DNA testing units launched for sexual assault, POCSO cases

10:54 PM Oct 22, 2021 | Sanjay Jog

The state government has launched three fast-track DNA testing units in Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune under the Nirbhaya scheme for women and child sexual abuse cases. The units were inaugurated by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday.

As the forensics are an integral part of criminal investigation, the police send extensive samples to the Forensic Science Laboratories (FSL) for testing. With the crime rate going up, the burden on the FSLs across the state has increased, delaying the period for testing. However, important cases are given priority, officials said.

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Vijay Thakare, deputy director of FSL Nagpur, said at the new fast-track units, dedicated manpower has been provided to avoid any delay. “Advance instruments have also been supplied to these newly established units,” he said. The infrastructure has been procured under the Nirbhaya Fund (around ₹250 crore), received from the Centre and the state government.

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The Centre’s dedicated non-lapsable Nirbhaya Fund is aimed at enhancing the safety and security of women in the country. Earlier this month, the fund’s Empowered Committee of Officers recommended a proposal for strengthening DNA analysis, cyber forensics and related facilities in Forensic Science Labs (FSL) in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Nagaland at an estimated cost of Rs 17.31 crore.

The EC also reviewed the physical and financial progress of all ongoing projects/schemes worth Rs 9,797.02 crore under the Nirbhaya Fund.

“The approved projects/schemes include setting up of one stop centres for women, women help desks in police stations, Emergency Response Support System, safe city projects, Women Helpline, etc. After initial appraisal by EC, Ministries/Departments implement the projects/schemes directly or through States/UTs/Implementing Agencies,” the Women and Child Development Ministry said in a statement.

The EC appraises and recommends proposals for funding under Nirbhaya Fund and monitors progress of implementation of approved projects.

NEW: Wildlife DNA unit in Nagpur

Maharashtra has become the first state to start a wildlife DNA unit. Located in Nagpur, the testing unit will be exclusively meant for animals and related cases. Prior to this, all states had to approach Central facilities in Hyderabad or Dehradun, which is both expensive and time-consuming. Now, the neighbouring states can also use Maharashtra’s facility.

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