A man in cyclone-ravaged Odisha’s Gajapati district Thursday apparently walked for eight kilometres carrying the body of his seven-year-old daughter, who died in a landslide, on his shoulder for post-mortem.
The incident, footage of which was shown by local channels, was reminiscent of a 2016 episode, when a man had walked 10 km carrying his dead wife on his shoulder after being denied a hearse at Bhawanipatna government hospital in Kalahandi district.
The Gajapati incident happened in Atankpur village under Laxmipur gram panchayat. Mukund Dora put daughter Babita’s body in a sack and carried it on his shoulder for the post mortem.
Babita had gone missing after Cyclone Titli and the state government on Wednesday declared her dead based on information from local panchayat functionaries, though her body was yet to be traced, officials said.
The girl had gone missing on October 11, her father said.
“Babita was swept away due to landslide during Cyclone Titli and subsequent flood caused by extremely heavy rainfall in the Mahendragiri hills of Gajapati district,” an official at the special relief commissioner’s office said.
Dora, walking down to Kainpur government hospital with the body, said, “We found my daughter’s body near a nullah on Wednesday afternoon. Police was informed and they came to our village this morning and took photographs of the body.”
He told reporters, who spotted him near Laxmipur on his way to the hospital, that the police did not make arrangements to shift the body to hospital for post-mortem. “Instead they (policemen) instructed me to bring the body to the hospital. I am a poor man and cannot hire a vehicle to transport the body from the village to hospital. Also the road to my village is damaged due to the cyclone and landslide. Therefore, I put the body in a bag and carried it on my shoulder.”
Following this, police arranged an auto-rickshaw to carry the man and the body to Kainpur hospital.
Gajapati District Collector Anupam Shah told PTI he was trying to gather the details of the incident. “I am aware of the allegation and examining the matter to ascertain the truth.”
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, a resident of Angul district in Odisha, visited the cyclone-hit Gajapati and Ganjam districts Thursday. He said, “It is painful to witness a man carrying the body of his daughter on his shoulder and walking down to hospital for post-mortem to a hospital.”
Dana Majhi, a poor tribal from Kalahandi district in 2016, had walked more than 10 km carrying his dead wife on his shoulder from the government hospital after being denied a hearse.