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Video showing disposal of bodies sparks row in Bengal; Guv expresses anguish, seeks details from CM

In a series of tweets, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar expressed his anguish at the disposal of dead bodies with ‘heartless indescribable insensitivity’ and sought an ‘urgent update’ from the state’s home secretary.

SNS | New Delhi |

A video has gone viral on social media showing decomposed bodies being dragged into a Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) van one after another in broad daylight in the Basdroni Police Station area. The video was purportedly shot outside the Garia crematorium where disgruntled locals reportedly objected to the cremation of 14 decomposed bodies.

It was alleged that bodies were of Coronavirus patients, However, the authorities have denied the same.

The chairman of the KMC board of administrators, Firhad Hakim, said the bodies were not of Covid patients, but were unclaimed and identified bodies.

“The West Bengal Health Department has informed that dead bodies were not of COVID patients, but were unclaimed/unidentified bodies from Hospital Morgue. Legal action is being taken against persons spreading #FakeNews (sic),” tweeted the Kolkata Police.

The tweet was based on a letter from the principal of NRS Medical College, one of Kolkata’s top state-run hospitals, to the city’s police commissioner, that said “14 unclaimed bodies” were handed over to Kolkata Municipal Corporation from the hospital morgue for disposal.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar was among the first government officials to react on the video. In a series of tweets, he expressed his anguish at the disposal of dead bodies with “heartless indescribable insensitivity” and sought an “urgent update” from the state’s home secretary.

Tagging West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and state home secretary, Dhankar said details about the bodies – when were they admitted to hospital and what treatment given — must be shared.

“Make transparent disclosure as regard to dead bodies – when admitted; what treatment given, which hospital, cause of death and importantly Bed Head Ticket. How can human dead bodies be so uncouthly dragged! It shames humanity,” the Governor tweeted.

He further asked the civic authorities and the police to follow law and protocol for disposal.

“Not sharing videos due to sensitivity. I have sought an urgent update from the state home secretary on the issue. In our society dead body is accorded highest respect and rituals are performed as per tradition,” he said.

He further tweeted saying that human rights activists and media owe it to people to be proactive by making it a test case.

“State cannot be allowed to slide into a ‘police state’ and deprive its citizens of rights under Article 21 of Constitution and virtually eclipse human rights and be repressive. We are not a police state. To inject such fear in public is authoritarianism. Repressive measures do not augur well for democracy,” Dhankar added.

He also said that rather than booking those responsible for such inhuman criminality, the police are being misused to ‘teach a lesson’ to those who exposed it.

“Muzzling of media or people by police arm twisting will not work anymore…Response from the state Home secretary has come with virtual admission about callous handling of dead bodies promising procedure will be streamlined,” the Governor said.