Several bodies, decomposed, bloated and suspected to be of people who succumbed to Covid 19, were on Monday found floating in Ganga River in a Bihar district.
Officials in Chausa block of Buxar, which borders Uttar Pradesh, rushed to the spot of the unseemly sight upon hearing the news.
“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 over phone. Ashok Kumar said the administration has spotted 45 dead bodies at Mahadev Ghat.
He 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-19 positive. The bodies have started decomposing. But we are taking all precautions while ensuring that these are disposed of in a decent manner”.
Some news channels claimed the number of bodies to be as high as 100, but the BDO dismissed as “highly exaggerated”.
Many local residents claimed the district administration is “in denial over many such unfortunate incidents involving residents of Buxar”.
Buxar SDO KK Upadhyay said, “During preliminary investigation, it has appeared that the bodies are in decomposed state and over 5 to 6 days old. We are interacting with our counterparts in Varanasi and Prayagraj to investigate the incident.”
“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 impelled to immerse the bodies of their departed relatives in the river,” one of the residents said.
Anjoria Devi, wife of the Dom Raja of Mahadev Ghat in Chausa, alleged that relatives of the deceased are also coming to the Ghat and throwing the dead bodies into the Ganga without cremation. “Around 10 dead bodies are being thrown in every day. When they were asked not to do so, they assault us. They also argue who would bear the expenses of cremation,” she told reporters.
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 the officials develop cold feet later and fearing that they might catch the infection themselves, they dump the bodies in the river and flee. Little do they realize that they are also polluting the river,” he added.