Eight months after visuals from Odisha of a tribal carrying his wife’s body on his shoulder triggered widespread anguish, images have emerged from Assam of a man carrying the body of his 18-year-old younger brother on a bicycle due to the absence of a motorable road. The latest incident was reported from Majuli, the constituency represented by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. Within hours of the footage being telecast by local TV channels Tuesday, Sonowal ordered a probe and directed a top health official to rush to the spot.
Local officials said the patient’s family hailed from Balijan village in Lakhimpur district, about 8 km away, and left with his body without waiting for the hospital’s hearse van driver to arrive. “What we have found is that the patient belongs to a village that falls under Lakhimpur district. But his family members decided to bring him to the civil hospital in Garamur, which is closer. Apparently, their village Balijan does not have a motorable road link, and they have to cross a makeshift bamboo bridge to reach the main road to Garamur,” Majuli Deputy Commissioner P G Jha told The Indian Express.
Jha said that the patient, Dimple Das, was brought to the hospital located in the headquarters of the island district by about six people at around 3.30 am Monday. But Das died even as the doctor on duty was diagnosing the case, he said. “They had brought the patient on a bicycle. Following his death due to respiratory problems, they left with his body tied to a bicycle. This happened despite the hospital having a hearse van,” said Jha.
According to Manik Mili, superintendent at the civil hospital, Das was diagnosed with a “severe respiratory problem” and brought in a “very serious condition”. “The doctor on duty diagnosed a severe respiratory problem. But even as he tried to provide him with oxygen supply, the patient passed away. The doctor called for the hearse van to send the body home, but the family left with the body before the driver arrived,” Mili said.
“Taking a strong view of an incident where a dead body was carried on cycle on the way to the village of the deceased, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has directed the Director, Health Services to rush to Majuli tonight and take stock of the circumstances leading to the incident. Expressing his concern, Sonowal asked the Director, Health Services to go to Majuli and immediately and carry out an inquiry to the incident.” Last August, visuals had emerged from Kalahandi of Dana Majhi, a tribal, carrying his wife’s body on his shoulders for nearly 12 km as he had no money for a hearse van.