PESHAWAR: The department of forensic medicine of Khyber Medical College has sought health department’s approval to receive and utilise grants and carry out DNA tests in suicide attacks, bomb blasts and other cases required by police.
The DNA laboratory, established at Khyber Medical College in February 2018, has so far processed 10,000 samples in 650 cases for police. It has decided to recruit one more molecular biologist to perform more tests quickly as police require prompt results in cases of terrorism and bomb attacks.
The laboratory received six body parts, including three of the suspected suicide bomber, and performed autopsies of the 85 worshippers killed in attack on mosque of Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines on Monday.
The department also preformed DNA of the woman on police’s request to establish her relation with the alleged suicide bomber.
DNA lab has so far processed 10,000 samples in 650 cases for police
Prof Hakim Khan Afridi, chairman of forensic medicine department, told Dawn that all DNA tests were conducted free of cost within 24 to 48 hours and the reports were handed over to police.
The dead bodies were handed over in bags provided by International Committee of the Red Cross for burial.
He said that police department was in the process of setting up a forensic science agency (FSA). “A DNA lab may be established there but meanwhile we have trained staffers, who are processing all samples that were previously being sent to Lahore for analysis on payment of Rs25,000 per sample. It is an interim setup towards a full-fledged FSA,” he added.
KMC has been conducting training workshops to scale up capacity of police on obtaining specimens from the crime scenes.
“Our lab has one microbiologist and one serologist supported by other staff, working as per international protocol. Both have worked in FSA Lahore but more staff and finances will enable us to do heavy investigation, especially during mass casualties,” said Prof Hakim Khan.
He said that despite financial constraints, the department had also been conducting DNA in cases relating to paternal and maternal disputes, sexual assaults and rape.
Sources said that the police should collect samples from the crime scene for correct analysis. The DNA lab should ideally work under one-roof in an institution. FSA Punjab has about 70 analysis and disaster management teams.
They said that in Punjab, there were teams at the divisional level that cordoned off the areas after bomb blasts and other attacks and collected samples in a scientific way.
Due to non-existence of such teams in Peshawar, all the dead bodies and injured were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital after the police lines bombing that caused huge rush there. The bodies were sent to KMC for autopsies after 4pm.
A few injured were also shifted to Hayatabad Medical Complex using the BRT corridor but there was no exit to transport the injured directly to the hospital. The need for disaster management teams was more important to transport the patients to all hospitals and don’t burden one.
KMC Dean Prof Mahmud Aurangzeb, in a letter to Health Secretary Shahidullah Khan, said that the forensic medicine department had been taken over by the health department in June 2016.
However, expansion of services including establishment of DNA heavily impacted KMC financially. KMC receives one-line budget from the government.
The dean has requested for creation of a separate DDO code/PR code under chairman of forensic medicine department or any other appropriate officer for smooth provision of services and to avoid unnecessary burden and audit of the medical teaching institution (MTI).
The department received Rs50 million from the government through MTI in 2022-23, which couldn’t be utilised due to high inflation in the market.
Sources said that Khyber Medical College was an autonomous entity while the forensic medicine department was located in it, however, it was under the administrative control of health department. Therefore, it required separate account rather than looking towards the MTI, they said.
Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2023
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