NHRC notice to Odisha over undignified treatment to dead bodies


Aug 26: Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports of alleged undignified
treatment to two dead women by the concerned authorities in the State, the
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has served notice to Odisha Government through
its Chief Secretary. 

The Chief
Secretary has been directed to submit report within four weeks. 

The first
incident relates to a man carrying his wife’s body for 10 km as the Kalahandi district
Headquarters Hospital at Bhawanipatna did not provide him the ambulance. The
second incident is also about the non-availability of an ambulance due to which
an old woman’s body was slung on a bamboo pole to carry that it to Balasore
hospital for post-mortem after she was crushed to death under a good’s train
near Soro Railway Station. 

its anguish and pain over the two reported incidents, the Commission, has observed
that, if true, these raise serious questions of violation of human rights of
the two deceased persons. 

“Right to
life of a person under Article 21 of the Constitution of India would also mean
that his dead body is treated with respect and the last rites are performed
with dignity. The above incidents have taken place, reportedly, in spite of
there being a scheme “Mahaprayana” offering free transportation of
bodies from Government Hospitals to the residences of the deceased,” observed
the Commission. 

Dana Majhi’s
wife died of tuberculosis at Kalahandi DHH. Majhi told the hospital authorities
that he was a poor man and could not afford a vehicle to carry the body to the
village for the last rites. But despite requests the hospital authorities did
not offer any help. He was forced to wrap the dead body of his wife in a cloth
and carry the same on his shoulders on foot to his home 60 Km away from the
hospital. It was only after he covered a distance of 10 Km that on the
intervention of some local news reporters, an Ambulance was arranged for the
remainder of the journey. 

In the
second incident, according to the media reports, a 80-year-old widow, Salamani
Behera was run over by a goods train near Soro Railway Station in district
Balasore. Her body was taken to Community Health Centre. The Government Railway
Police reached the Centre after twelve hours. They could not arrange an
Ambulance to take the body to Balasore hospital for post-mortem. Reportedly due
to the delay, rigor mortis had set in making tying of the body difficult.
Therefore, the workers broke the body at the hip, wrapped it in an old sheet,
tied it to a bamboo pole and carried it.

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