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A piece of bone, hair sent for advanced DNA test belong to Shraddha Walkar, say police

A superior mitochondrial DNA test is run when nuclear DNA cannot be extracted from samples or when they are highly decomposed.

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New Delhi: An advanced DNA test run on a piece of bone and hair thought to be that of Shraddha Walkar has matched with her father and brother, thereby establishing they belonged to the deceased Maharashtra girl.

According to Special Commissioner of Police (Delhi) Sagarpreet Hooda, nuclear DNA could not be extracted from these remains and they were sent to the DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) in Hyderabad for a superior DNA mitochondrial profiling.

A mitochondrial DNA analysis examines biological evidence when the nuclear DNA is present in very low quantities, or when the bones are degraded or in samples such as hair, and teeth.

In cases where DNA extraction is also difficult, labs extract mitochondria from the cell and genome sequence is then matched with the family.

Hooda said Wednesday that a few of the bones and hair from which DNA couldn’t be extracted were sent to the Hyderabad lab, and “one piece of bone and a bunch of hair matched with Shraddha’s father and brother”.

These bones and hair were recovered from the crime scene — live-in boyfriend Aftab Amin Poonawalla and Shraddha’s Chhatarpur apartment — and the Mehrauli jungle where her dismembered body was scattered.

The bones will now be sent for postmortem by a medical board at the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences, AIIMS. The Delhi Police has additionally prepared a questionnaire to be sent to AIIMS as well.

“It’s been months since they were disposed of and will require high-level scientific and technical study. Experts are studying how to determine the cause of death. The chemical composition of the bones will be checked, reactions will be studied and if we are close, then the exact time of death can also be calculated along with the closest cause of death,” a source had earlier told ThePrint. The report is expected to be prepared in the next couple of days.

ThePrint had reported that some of the bones recovered from the jungle matched Shraddha’s father’s DNA. Sources said while those bones had been sent to the CFSL lab in Delhi, DNA couldn’t be extracted from smaller bones.

“The smaller pieces, highly decomposed, were sent to the Hyderabad lab. We were informed that one piece from which DNA could be extracted matched Shraddha’s family, so did a bunch of hair. There is a high possibility that the others have decomposed to the extent that DNA couldn’t be extracted,” the source said.

Shraddha Walkar was allegedly strangled to death by Poonawalla in May this year. Her body was chopped into some 35 pieces, and disposed of in adjoining areas, including in the Mehrauli jungle.


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