A family that had been searching for the body of their 29-year-old relative at the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s (NMMC) hospital in Vashi had its worst fears confirmed on Monday after it emerged that another family had mistakenly identified and claimed his body from the morgue and cremated it. However, the body of the other man involved in the mix-up is yet to be found.
The family of the deceased, Mohammad Umar Farooq Shaikh, was informed by the hospital last week that his body was missing from its morgue. Shaikh, a daily wage worker hailing from West Bengal, had passed away in his home in Nerul on May 9. He was initially rushed to D Y Patil Hospital in Nerul, where doctors declared him dead, and later to the MNNC hospital in Vashi.
The NMMC said Shaikh had died of cardiac arrest. However, doctors at the Vashi hospital had insisted on conducting a Covid-19 test after finding that he had also suffered from pneumonia. His body was then preserved in the morgue.
Shaikh’s family was informed to collect his body after the test result was known. After the test returned negative for coronavirus, Shaikh’s brother Nasuddin went to the morgue on Thursday, only to be told that the body could not be located.
NMMC Health Officer Balasaheb Sonawane said another family had mistakenly claimed Shaikh’s body last week.
“We are investigating whether it was a case of the bodies being wrongly numbered by mortuary staff. The family identified the body as belonging to their relative and cremated it as per Hindu rites,” said Sonawane.
He added that a search is underway to locate the deceased member of the Hindu family and to check whether the other 40 bodies preserved in the morgue have been correctly numbered.
Sonawane said he was not aware if the body of the missing man had been handed over to another family.
Both families approached the police after being apprised by the hospital of the mix-up. Sanjeev Dhumal, senior inspector, Vashi police station, said no formal complaint has been lodged yet. “We are speaking to both families and staff working in the morgue to establish how Shaikh’s body was given to the wrong family and to locate where the body of the other man is,” he said.
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