In Shimla, another Raj relic is history

Another imperial landmark of Shimla, the summer capital of the Raj, will soon be history. The Government Examiner of Questioned Documents (GEQD) is being shifted out of Shimla and merged with the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Chandigarh.

GEQD was set up by the Raj in 1904 to keep tabs on letters and to identify writers of subversive literature through handwriting. It went on to become an important institution. And even after free India set-up forensic labs across the country, GEQD survived despite several attempts, most notably in 1996 and 1995, to shift in out of Shimla to lend valuable help to investigators by examining documents.

In Independent India, GEQD helped with investigations in high-profile cases as the multi-crore securities scam, the JMM bribery case, the hawala scam of 1995-96, besides scores of national and international criminal cases.

But now, it is curtains. The Union Home Ministry on August 6 conveyed to Director of Chandigarh forensic lab Dr S K Shukla that the "ministry has accepted the recommendation of the consultants, appointed to review working of all forensic institutions, that GEQDs at Hyderabad, Kolkata and Shimla be merged with the CFSLs at Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chandigarh respectively".

On August 16, Shukla informed the GEQD Shimla about the decision.

"The GEQD Shimla,along with its Chandigarh unit, stands merged with CFSL Chandigarh under the administrative control of Director, CFSL, Chandigarh with effect from 6.8.2010".

In 1966, then CM Y S Parmar convinced Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru not to shift GEQD from Shimla. In 1995, it was Virbhadra Singh who convinced PM P V Narsimha Rao and Home minister S B Chavan to drop the idea, and the institution survived.

But now, finally, history books may have to be updated.

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