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Unclaimed bodies

KARACHI: The number of unclaimed bodies being buried at the Mowach Goth graveyard, managed by the Edhi Foundation, has almost halved af ter the launch of a Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) project that helps in identification of heirs with the assis-tance of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

The project, Shanakht, which was designed to identify and trace the heirs of the unidentiñed bodies with the help of biometric scanning technology, made a major difference within a year of its launch.

Figures compiled by the CPLC, which manages the project,showed that a total of 1,436 unclaimed bodies were buried in 2015 and their number dropped to 575 in 2016 as Shanakht helped in finding the heirs of 704 bodies.

`We launched the project in late 2015,` said Amir Hassan of the CPLC, the man who was behind the Shanakht project and heads it at present. `The results are marvellous and we are happy that theexercise that took so much time and efforts of different individuals and institutions is yielding results.

`The system is improving and at present we have been able to trace families of more than 70 per cent unclaimed bodies. With the passage of time, it will improve furtherand we hope totouch100 per cent mark soon,` he said.

The system has been designedto work in the following manner.

When volunteers of Edhi Foundation or Chhipa Welfare Association find an unclaimed body they would take its multiple thumb impressions with the assistance of CPLC staff at their facilities and send them to Nadra through CPLC software along with all relevant details and findings of police and medico-legal report. Nadra takes a day or two to respond to the CPLC with all particulars about the heirs.

Before Shanakht was put in place, there was no other system to identify such bodies and the Edhi Foundation used to bury them after keeping them for three days for any relative to contact and identify them at its morgue in Sohrab Goth.

They would take a photograph of the body for record so that a relative who might turn up afterwards could identify their loved ones after leafing through the picture album of the buried persons. The number of the bodies identified with the help of photographshas, however, remained very negligible, given the lack of a technology-based mechanism.

`The effectiveness of the new system can be gauged from the fact that since its launch, we have been able to trace families of any dead body even if it belonged to tribal areas of the country, claimed Ghulam Hussain, who is supervising the morgue and graveyard services of Edhi Foundation.

`I have been in the field for decades and I know the percentage of identification of unclaimed bodies has always remained in single digits or sometimes almost zero. In 2014, we buried 1,657 unclaimed bodies at Mowach Goth and the following year, we buried 1,436. Hardly any of them was claimed by anyone, he said.