Nuclear forensic science to catch criminals, trace mastermind behind terror incidents
2011 By Syed Akbar Visakhapatnam, Feb 24: Hi-tech criminals and terrorists beware! Thanks to recentadvancement in nuclear forensic science in India, law-enforcing agencies in the countrycan now easily catch terror and hi-tech criminal groups, even while tracing thereal mastermind behind terror incidents. According to Dr Rukmani Krishnamurthy, technical adviser, Institute of Forensic Science,Mumbai, recent research in nuclear forensic science at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centrewill not only help in tackling incidents of illicit trafficking, but also effectivelymeet the threat of nuclear terrorism. “The neutron activation analysis method now increasingly being adopted in forensicsciences provides hints on the origin of the material, and thus on the perpetrator.Unlike conventional methods like truth serum and lie-detector tests, forensic resultsobtained through neutron activation analysis at Barc serve as evidence in a court of law.It is as concrete a proof in a court of law as any DNA fingerprinting analysis,” DrRukmani told this correspondent. Dr Rukmani is one of the nuclear forensic science experts participating in the ongoing10th biennial symposium on nuclear and radiochemistry (Nucar – 2011) at GITAM Universityhere. She said nuclear forensic science had emerged as the ultimate solution to the graveproblem of techno-crime detection in the country. Using Neutron activation analysis methods, one can determine in case of gunshot residueswhether a hole is really due to the passage of a bullet. Analysis of firearm dischargeresidue in the hands of a suspect shooter will help differentiate homicide from suicide,besides identifying the shooter. “We can also estimate the range of firing anddifferentiate entry and exit shot hole and match the bullet specimen with metal piece obtained from the scene of the crime,” Dr Rukmani pointed out. Analysis of biological material will help confirm toxic metals in poisoning cases.Experts will also know whether a particular case was of slow or acute poisoning. Theavailability of high neutron flux reactor at Barc has made hi-tech crime detection quiteeasier. According to her, the most important advantage of NAA technique apart from its unparallelsensitivity, specificity and accuracy, is the simultaneous multi element determinationcapability without destroying the sample in the process. “Thus NAA allows re-examinationof exhibits, archival preservation and presentation of the evidence material in court oflaw, if necessary,” she said. It will also help in obtaining clues on the origin and on the intended use of thematerial seized from terror groups or hi-tech criminals. “Nuclear forensics has reached a high degree of maturity in the country and it is highlyrelevant in the areas of non-proliferation and of nuclear security. Criminals use thelatest technology to commit hi-tech crimes. Crimes are no more localized. They areorganised globally. Terrorist activity and the information technology related crimes arethe latest trends in the crime scenario,” Dr Rukmani observed, elaborating how NAA technique will bust complicated crimes indulged in by international terror groups. According to her, the application of micro analytical techniques enables investigators tostudy even individual particles of only a few micrometres in size. This will fix terrorgroups and hi-tech criminals from escaping the long arms of law.