The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday (June 12) issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh government, police, and the municipal corporation of Balrampur over the removal of a body using a garbage collection van.
The NHRC has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that the body of a man, who died near a government office in Utraula block of Balrampur district in Uttar Pradesh earlier this week, was being dumped in a garbage van by municipal workers while some police personnel stood as mute bystanders, a statement said.
Shameful , appalling visuals from Balrampur . The body of 42 year old Mohd Anwar , who collapsed and died outside a govt office yesterday , dumped in a garbage van in the presence of @balrampurpolice and taken away …. pic.twitter.com/N5DCwe0QC9
— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) June 11, 2020
The commission has issued notices to the Chairman, Municipal Corporation Balrampur, and the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report on the matter in four weeks.
The Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh is expected to issue necessary guidelines to all the district and municipal authorities immediately that the bodies of the deceased persons and people in need of immediate medical care found on the roads, are attended to promptly and treated with dignity, the statement said.
In a similar incident, a video showing decomposed bodies, allegedly of COVID-19 victims, being loaded into a van for cremation by Kolkata’s civic body in broad daylight went viral on social media on Thursday.
Yesterday 13 unclaimed dead bodies were brought to the cremation ground, at Garia,Kolkata,West Bengal,India. But the local people objected against this activities.Thus they, who brought the dead bodies, were compelled to take the dead bodies elsewhere. pic.twitter.com/piJ4PbkTPe
— Kalpataru Mandal (@KalpataruManda4) June 11, 2020
This led to West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar expressing concern over the video, who sought a report regarding the incident from the state home secretary.
Dhankhar said in a tweet, “Anguished at the disposal of dead bodies with heartless indescribable insensitivity. Not sharing videos due to sensitivity. In our society, the dead body is accorded highest respect – rituals are performed as per tradition.”
Anguished ! Share public outrage and deep concern at most unconscionable heart rendering callous dragging of dead bodies reflected in videos. Shocked at state of affairs @MamataOfficial
Have sought urgent briefing today from KMC Chairperson and Municipal Commissioner. (1/2)
— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) June 12, 2020
In yet another post in the micro-blogging site, the governor said, “Response @HomeSecretaryWB has come. Virtual admission about callous handling of dead bodies promising procedure will be streamlined. Rather than booking those responsible for such inhuman criminality, the police are being misused to teach a lesson to those who exposed it.”
Response @HomeSecretaryWB has come. Virtual admission about callous handling of dead bodies promising procedure will be stream lined.
Rather than booking those responsible for such inhuman criminality, police is being misused to ‘teach a lesson’ to those who exposed it.(1/3)
— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) June 11, 2020
However, the West Bengal Health Department and the city police said the video was “fake” and that the bodies were unclaimed ones from a hospital morgue.
“The West Bengal Health Department has informed that the dead bodies were not of COVID patients, but were unclaimed/unidentified bodies from Hospital Morgue. Legal action is being taken against persons spreading #FakeNews”, the Kolkata Police said.
The principal of NRS Medical College, Saibal Kumar Mukherjee, wrote to Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma that 14 unclaimed bodies were handed over to the KMC as per the list provided by different police stations under the jurisdiction of the hospitals morgue.
“And none of these bodies were of COVID patients. The subject of this video is fake, and you may take necessary action in this regard,” Mukherjee said in his letter.
The video showed personnel of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation loading the decomposed bodies into a van allegedly outside Garia crematorium. It also showed locals objecting to the cremation of a number of decomposed bodies at the same place.
According to the locals, the cremation of so many decomposed bodies of COVID-19 patients at the crematorium located in the vicinity of a densely populated locality at a time when the city is witnessing rising cases of the contagion would harm public health.
Assuring people that he would look into the incident, the city mayor Firhad Hakim said the bodies of novel coronavirus victims in the city are cremated at a separate burning ground at Dhapa in its eastern fringes.
The opposition CPI(M) and BJP criticised the state government and alleged that the “video clip is a proof of the TMC trying to hide the actual number of COVID-19 deaths in the state”.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said it must be ascertained whether the bodies are of those who died of COVID-19. The corpses that were kept in the crematorium appeared to be more than a month old, he said.
“I have earlier said that the real number of COVID-19 deaths in West Bengal are being suppressed,” he told reporters at the party’s state headquarters in Kolkata.
(With inputs from agencies)