A controversy has erupted in the state after videos on social media showed bodies at Garia crematorium in South Kolkata being dragged with a hook on Wednesday afternoon. There were also protests by local residents, who suspected the bodies were of Covid-19 victims.
While Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday expressed anguish over the way bodies were being disposed off, CPM’s Jadavpur MLA Sujan Chakraborty wrote to Chairman of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) administrators’ board Firhad Hakim seeking clarification on the unidentified bodies that were taken to the Garia crematorium. Also, members of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) — CPM’s youth wing — agitated in front of the local police station on Thursday.
However, KMC claimed that the bodies did not belong to Covid-19 victims.
Trouble started brewing on Wednesday afternoon, when a Kolkata Municipal Corporation vehicle allegedly carrying 13 unidentified bodies reached the cremation. Fearing that the bodies might be of cornavirus patients, nearly 200 local residents soon gathered and started protesting. They also alleged that there was an attempt to cremate all the 13 bodies at the same time.
“Situation turned worse after we saw videos showing how one person was dragging the almost decomposed bodies by a hook,” said a local resident.
Taking to Twitter, Dhankhar wrote: “Anguished at disposal of dead bodies @MamataOfficial -with heartless indescribable insensitivity. Not sharing videos due to sensitivity. Have sought an urgent update @HomeSecretaryWB. In our society dead body is accorded highest respect-rituals r performed as per tradition.”
He further asked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to maintain transparency on the identity of the bodies and disclose several details, including when the patient was admitted and to which hospital, what treatment was given, cause of death and bed head ticket number.
“How can human dead bodies be so uncouthly dragged ! It shames humanity,” he tweeted.
The Governor also sought an urgent update from Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay.
Seeking an explanation of that incident on behalf of the local residents, CPM MLA Chakraborty wrote to Hakim: “Why were those bodies brought to Garia crematorium? Those who came with bodies were going to cremate all the bodies at the same time. Why? Are those bodies related to Covid?”
A local resident who lives near the crematorium said, “Last week, on day around midnight we heard that some unidentified bodies have been brought at the crematorium. The local people agitated, following which the bodies were taken away. Yesterday, again they came with 13 bodies in the afternoon. Again, we protested and they left with the bodies. This is very unhygienic, especially when Covid infection are spreading like wildfire all over Kolkata.”
However, the KMC officials denied that those bodies had any link with Covid-19.
A senior civic body official said, “A KMC order, dated May 29, clarifies that the Dhapa crematorium will be exclusively used for cremation of Hindu Covid-19 bodies, while unclaimed bodies will be cremated at Garia Adi Mahasasan. The order was issued by the Chief Municipal Health Officer. So, there is nothing to hide and the bodies are not related to Covid cases.”
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