COVID scare: Panic in Bihar after bodies found floating in Ganga

Locals say bereaved family members are forced to dump bodies of their kin

A file picture of river Ganga. (For representation only)

In a horrific development, several bodies said to be of people who succumbed to COVID, were on Monday found floating in the river Ganga in a district in Bihar. Adding to the panic, some news channels went berserk, saying that about 100 bodies are washed ashore— something which officials termed “highly exaggerated”.

However, locals claimed the numbers could be high.

When the news trickled in, officials in Chausa block of Buxar, which borders Uttar Pradesh, rushed to the spot.

“We were alerted by the local chowkidar that many bodies have been spotted floating from upstream. We have so far recovered 15 of these. None of the deceased happens to be a resident of the district,” Chausa BDO Ashok Kumar told PTI.


The official said ‘many Uttar Pradesh districts are situated right across the river and the bodies may have been dumped in the Ganges for reasons not known to us. We cannot confirm whether the deceased were indeed COVID positive. The bodies are in a highly decomposed state.”

“But we are taking all precautions while ensuring that these are disposed of in a decent manner,” he said. Many local residents claimed that the district administration was ‘in denial over many such unfortunate incidents involving residents of Buxar’.

They alleged that those manning cremation ghats were charging a fortune whenever people reached there with the body of a relative who died of COVID.

“There is also a shortage of wood and other material required for cremation. Availability of these has taken a hit because of the lockdown. So many bereaved family members are forced to immerse the bodies of their departed relatives in the river,” a resident said.

Often family members of a COVID victim are not handed over the body by the administration which claims it would perform the last rites observing the protocol in place for the deadly virus, another local stated.

“What indeed happens is that officials develop cold feet later and fearing that they might catch the infection themselves, they dump bodies in the river and flee,” said a resident.