Given the possibility that the deceased could be Covid infected, an ambulance was called to take him to the burial ground but it didn’t turn up even after 18 hours of his death.By Avinash KumarPUBLISHED ON MAY 17, 2021 04:15 PM IST
A COVID-19 victim’s body was carried to a crematorium on a garbage cart of the Municipal Corporation for last rites on Sunday in Bihar’s Nalanda.
A middle-aged man, who died at his rented house at Jalalpur locality of Bihar’s Nalanda district on May 13, was taken to the burial ground in a pushcart as the municipality’s ambulance failed to turn up on Friday.
The victim’s maternal uncle Ramavtar Prasad said his nephew Manoj Kumar alias Guddu complained of uneasiness and was admitted to the Sadar hospital in Biharsharif on May 11. Two days later, he was discharged and brought home, where he eventually died a few hours later. Earlier in the day before his discharge from the hospital, Manoj Kumar’s sample was collected to check for Covid-19 infection. The test results had not arrived by the time of his passing.
Given the possibility that the deceased could be Covid infected, an ambulance was called to take him to the burial ground but it didn’t turn up even after 18 hours of his death, said Prasad.
Later, the victim’s kin contacted local ward councillor Sushil Kumar alias Mitthu, who allegedly demanded ₹22,000 for cremating the body. The family said they agreed to pay him ₹16,500, following which, two men wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) kits arrived with a garbage pushcart and carried the body to the burial ground. A video of the body being carried in the municipality garbage cart went viral on social media.
Following the incident, a committee of local residents requested Nalanda district magistrate (DM) Yogendra Prasad for a probe alleging misconduct by the ward councillor. They wanted to know why a municipal vehicle was not provided for carrying the body and why a municipal committee, formed to conduct the last rites of unclaimed bodies, did not intervene in the situation.
Biharsharif municipal commissioner Anshul Agarwal said, “We are investigating why a push cart was used to carry the body.”
Some healthcare workers claimed a shortage of ambulances was the reason for the emergency vehicle’s non-availability, while the civil hospital authorities said ambulances were used only either to bring patients to hospital or send bodies to crematoriums from hospitals.
However, Nalanda civil surgeon Dr Sunil Kumar seemed to disagree with the shortage of ambulance theory. “We have more than 200 vehicles to take bodies to the crematorium. A proper investigation will be done into the matter and action will be taken against those who are involved in the incident,” said Kumar.
Several incidents of bodies being carried on bicycles or pushcarts have been reported from rural areas of the state recently.
A video went viral in which the Municipal Corporation workers can be seen carrying the body of the Covid victim on a garbage cart wearing a PPE kit. The body was taken to crematorium number 17 in Biharsharif.
The victim has been identified as Manoj Kumar, who died of COVID-19 on May 13.
Nalanda Civil Surgeon, Dr Sunil Kumar said that action will be taken against those who are involved in the incident after proper investigation.
“I have been told that the body of a Covid victim was carried to the crematorium on a cart. We have more than 200 vehicles to take bodies to the crematorium. A proper investigation will be done into the matter and action will be taken against those who are involved in the incident,” said Dr Kumar.
According to the locals, the ward councillor of ward number 8 of Municipal Corporation was asked to perform the last rites.
People were told by the ward councillor that a committee has been formed for the last rites by the Municipal Corporation and the corporation will perform the last rites of the unclaimed bodies and the body will be taken from a municipal vehicle.
Earlier too, a few cases of carrying Covid victims body on garbage carts were reported from different parts of the country.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there are 82,487 active COVID-19 cases in Bihar, while 5,58,785 people have recovered from the disease so far