Helping cops nab criminals

Crime busters

Ruchika Tripathi, a second year student of BSc (Zoology) is quite fond of reading books on the iconic Sherlock Holmes wherein the astute detective nabs criminals by relying on his uncanny instincts and unwavering belief in forensic science.

But this SGTB Khalsa College student gets saddened by the fact that in real life, only three per cent of criminal cases are solved with the help of infallible science of forensics, at least in India.

She wants to change that, and the beginning was rece­n­tly made when she, along with her classmates and teachers, devised a latest forensic technology – which is still to be patented by Delhi University – wherein fingerprints on any object can be retrieved even if they are altered, consciously or unwi­ttingly.

“Many a time criminals bury the weapon underground or throw it in a water body or at times, burn it. Under such adverse conditions also, we can retrieve fingerprints,” explains Ruchika, who is thrilled to be a part of this landmark innovation at the tender age of 18.

She is not alone. There were a total of 10 students, five from second year of BSc (zoology) and rest five from BSc (chemistry), who worked on the project under the guidance of three professors and one mentor, V N Sehgal, an ex-director of CFSL, Central Bureau of Investigation.  

Prof G S Sodhi, associate professor, department of chemistry who worked on the project said, “The powder works on all kinds of objects – wood, paper, glass or metallic, whereas in normal cases, different powder is used on different objects.”

Sodhi was very reluctant while revealing the ingredients of the powder. “It has zinc carbonate, detergent powder and biological stains. I can’t reveal everything as this still has not got the pat­e­nt,” muses Sodhi.

Though the project rece­i­v­e­d an allocation of Rs 10 lakh for one year, the college succeeded in a mere six months. Rest of the time will be used to improvise upon it.
While narrating behind-the-door research work, Ruchika said, “We first started on the existing powders used for forensic purposes. Then Chemistry students sug­gested varied combinations of different chemical components to explore the results. All suggested experiments were then tested by our Zoology stud­e­n­ts.”   

Another Zoology student, 19-year-old Vaishali Jain calls her experience quite enriching as, “it enabled me to perform dozens of experiments when I had no inkling of the outcome,” said Vaishali.  

Though it will take some time before the unnamed powder is patented, it will soon be used by the Delhi Police at crime spots to nab criminals. When the news of innovation reached Delhi Police, Karunakaran, DCP, North-west district reached out to the college so that the pink substance can be tested in real-life situations. Karunakaran told Metrolife, “Laboratory conditions are always different from those existing at crime spots. So, we are taking a small sample of their multi-utility powder and will test it at the actual crime scenes.”

Karunakaran, who himself was an academician at a veterinary college in Chennai before he turned a cop in 2004, spent some time with the students and motivated them to keep innovating for betterment of the university and also for the society as a whole.

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