What do relatives of Covid victims, who cannot even afford to pay for a funeral do when faced with the difficult decision? While images of makeshift cremation sites, and funeral arrangements being made by citizens groups have been making headlines from Delhi and elsewhere, there is a grim side to the final rites of Covid-19 victims emerging from smaller towns and villages which the pandemic has now clawed into.
A case in point was the horrific news of “bloated, decomposing bodies” washing up on Monday morning along the Ganga river banks in Buxar, Bihar. According to a NDTV report the bodies were seen “floating in the river in Chausa town” which lies on the Bihar-Uttar Pradesh border. And the bodies floated ashore, piling up on the banks. It must have been a nightmare like situation for the locals who raised an alarm. According to news reports the local administration has stated that “the bodies floated down from Uttar Pradesh and belong to Covid patients whose relatives may have been unable to find space to cremate or bury them.”
The NDTV report quoted Chausa district official Ashok Kumar who said there were “40-45 bodies were seen floating”. He was reportedly a witness to the horrific sight at Mahadev Ghat, in Chausa and added that the bodies appeared to “have been thrown into the river”. The total number of bodies may be closer to 100 added the news report, and they seemed to have been in the water for at least five to seven days, according to another official, KK Upadhyay who told the media that it must be investigated where “they are from, which town in UP.”
According to the news report there is panic in the town as expected, and people are now afraid of a possible infection from the river water as well. Villagers are terrified of Covid and may bury the bodies, stated the report. Narendra Kumar, a village resident told the media that, “A district administration official came and said they would pay ₹ 500 for cleaning up the bodies.” However, it is yet to be reported if there is any word from the state government of Uttar Pradesh on the issue yet.
Bodies, believed to be of Covid patients, found floating in Yamuna as well. Dozens of unidentified and some partially burnt bodies have been found to be floating in the Yamuna river in Hamirpur, Uttar Pradesh, amid the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. The locals and government officials have claimed that fear of cremation is leading to bodies being immersed in rivers.
Lockdowns get stricter in Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Mizoram
While Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have extended the existing lockdown till May 17, and the curbs are now more stringent, other parts of the country have also announced shut downs and strict restrictions. These include Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Rajasthan, where a two-week shutdown has been put in place from Monday. According to reports Mizoram announced a week-long lockdown from Monday, and Sikkim announced restrictions till May 16, while Karnataka has also announced restrictions till May 24. Here is the tally released by the Centre on Monday morning, over 4,03,738 cases reported in 24 hours and counting.