National, Odisha rights panels notice on inhuman treatment of dead

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Bhubaneswar, Aug 26 (IANS) The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Odisha human rights panel on Friday issued notices to authorities over the undignified treatment meted out to the bodies of two women in the past two days in the state.

Taking suo motu cognizance of media reports, the NHRC asked the Odisha Chief Secretary to submit a report on the two incidents within four weeks.

Expressing anguish and pain over the two incidents, the NHRC observed that, if true, these raise serious questions of violation of human rights of the two deceased persons.

In the latest case, shocking images appeared of two men carrying a deceased elderly woman’s body strung on a pole after breaking the body’s hip bone.

The two incidents occurred despite the state government’s “Mahaprayan” scheme that offers free transportation of bodies from government hospitals to the residences of the deceased, said a commission release.

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During the day, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) too had asked authorities to inquire into the two cases.

The Kalahandi District Collector and the Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) were asked to submit a report within two weeks on the cases.

A tribal, Dana Manjhi, was on Wednesday forced to carry his wife’s body on his shoulders for nearly 10 km as hospital authorities declined to provide him an ambulance or a hearse as he could not afford to pay for it.

His wife had died of tuberculosis at district headquarters hospital at Bhawanipatna.

In the second case, the body of an 80-year-old widow Salamani Behera run over by a goods train near Soro railway station in Balasore district was taken to a Community Health Centre at Soro.

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The body was to be transferred to the district headquarter hospital, 30 km away, for autopsy.

On Thursday, workers at the community health centre allegedly stood on the dead woman’s hip to snap the bones and fit her inside a plastic sheet. When her son protested, officials claimed it to be a case of rigor mortis.

Rabindra Barik, the dead woman’s son, told IANS: “The workers broke my mother’s bones at the hip and wrapped the body in a sheet. Then they strung the body to a bamboo pole to take it to the railway station.”

The bereaved son demanded action against the persons involved.

The OHRC sought an explanation on the incident from the Government Railway Police and the Balasore district authorities within four weeks.

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The state commission too took suo motu cognizance of media reports in both cases after the video clips went viral on TV news channels over the past two days.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik described the incidents as “extremely distressing”.

On the sidelines of an investment meet in Bengaluru, Patnaik said: “It is extremely distressing. We have ordered an inquiry. Action would be taken against whoever is found guilty.”

The Sub-Collector of Bhabanipatna has submitted a report to the District Collector on Dana Majhi’s case.



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