Defunct forensic lab
Weighed down by over-riding duty to protect VIPs, whatever investigative powers the Assam police still retains is being seriously compromised by a practically defunct forensic lab. In a State where the Chief Minister considers the Home department with law and order so important as to keep it with himself, the Forensic Science laboratory at Kahilipara in Guwahati is in dire straits. Divisions like toxicology, serology, chemistry, drugs and rcotics are uble to conduct tests due to shortage of chemicals. In an age in which D tests have become vital to il crimils, this lab is uble to conduct it as the key chemical is not procured for being on the costlier side. Meanwhile, other expensive equipment lie unused; the digital forensic unit to help detect cyber crimes has been non-functiol for three years; over 40 posts, including many of technicians, have long been vacant; often there is no diesel even to run the office generator. Samples from victims’ bodies and crime scenes remain unexamined for months. The number of pending cases reached 1,052 in March this year. Samples have to be sent outside the State, for which the procedure is lengthy and cumbersome. All this leads to investigations coming to dead ends and critical delays in filing charge-sheets. The message coming through clearly in this tale of systemic neglect is that for the government, the police force is important only for its own security. Keeping the law enforcement apparatus ship-shape to fight crime is simply not in its scheme of things.