A tribal man in Kalahandi carried his wife’s body on his shoulders for nearly 12 km as he had no money for a hearse van and the district hospital authorities allegedly refused to arrange one.
His teenaged daughter sobbing by his side, Dana Majhi wrapped his wife Amangadei’s body in old sheets from the bed at the hospital in Bhawanipatna town on Wednesday morning, adjusted her on his shoulders and started walking to his home in Melghar village in Kalahandi’s Thuamul Rampur block, about 60 km away.
Majhi’s wife, suffering from tuberculosis, died early on Wednesday morning. Left with little money, Majhi requested hospital authorities
to arrange a vehicle for transporting the body.
“I requested everyone, but no one listened. What option did I have other than carrying her,” asked Majhi. He had walked for almost 12 km when some youths saw him and alerted local officials. Soon, an ambulance was sent which took the body to Melghar village.
Kalahandi district collector Brundha D claimed that Majhi did not wait for a vehicle to be arranged.
“We would have surely sent the body in a vehicle,” she told The Indian Express, adding that she has sanctioned for Majhi Rs 2000 from the state government’s funeral assistance scheme and another Rs 10,000 from the District Red Cross Fund.
Expressing anguish over the incident, former Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das said that despite its promise of development and better healthcare for tribals and Dalits, the Naveen Patnaik government had done little. “When I was an MP, I had arranged two ambulances for the Bhawanipatna hospital. The vehicles could have been used in this case. What is the point of having them if they can’t help a poor tribal in the time of need?,” asked Das.
This is not the first time people have had to transport bodies in this manner. In May, two youths rode with the body of their relative from Jharigan Community Health Centre to Bharuamunda village, nearly 30 km away, because they did not have enough money to arrange a vehicle.
In April, a family from Andhra Pradesh, which had recently come to Rayagada district, was forced to tow their daughter’s body in a trolleyrickshaw for last rites as no one came forward to help them.
The deceased was suffering from epilepsy since childhood and had succumbed to an unknown ailment.