OHRC seeks inquiry report on two cases of apathy for the dead

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Bhubaneswar, Aug 26 (IANS) The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on Friday sought from state authorities reports on inquiries into two shocking incidents of inhuman treatment of the dead by hospital officials here.

In the first case, a tribal man was forced to carry his wife’s body on his shoulders nearly 10 km after the hospital authorities declined to give him an ambulance or a hearse as he could not afford to pay for it.

The OHRC has asked the Kalahandi district collector and the Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) to inquire into the incident and submit the report within two weeks.

In the second case, a health centre staff deliberately crushed a dead woman’s hip bone so the body could be tied in a bundle and carried slung from a pole. The OHRC sought an explanation on this from the Government Railway Police and the Balasore district authorities within four weeks.

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The commission 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 has described the incidents as “extremely distressing”.

On the sidelines of an investment meet in Bengalureu, 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 the tribal, Dana Majhi, walking with his wife’s body on his shoulder.

In the other incident, workers at a community health centre (CHC) in Balasore 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.

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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 it to a bamboo pole to take the body to the railway station.”

The bereaved son demanded action against the persons involved.

The woman, Salamani Behera, a 76-year-old widow, was run over by a train on Wednesday morning and her body was taken to Soro CHC. She was to be transferred to the district headquarter hospital 30 km away for autopsy.

In the absence of ambulance facility, the Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel decided to send the body by train. They had asked sweepers of the CHC to carry the body slung from a pole on their shoulders to the railway station, about 2 km, as autorickshaw fares were too high.

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However, a GRP official told IANS that the woman’s bones were broken as the body had become stiff.



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