Panic gripped locals on Monday when they spotted dozens of unidentified corpses, suspected to be of Covid patients, floating and some stuck in the sandy bank of the Ganga at Chausa in Bihar’s Buxar district.
While some of the unidentified bodies were swollen, others appeared half burnt. Locals said bodies numbering around 40 to 45 were dumped on the river in the last few days. They suspected that the bodies could be of Covid patients.
Patna-based doctors Rajiv Ranjan and Madhusudan — said if the bodies are of Covid patients, it may infect a large number of people and animals as well.
Many local residents, who spoke before cameras with their faces masked, claimed that the district administration was “in denial over many such unfortunate incidents involving residents of Buxar”. They alleged that those manning cremation ghats were charging a fortune whenever people reached there with the body of a near and dear one who died of the coronavirus.
“There is also a shortage of wood and other material required for cremation. Availability of these has taken a hit because of the lockdown. So many bereaved family members are impelled to immerse the bodies of their departed relatives in the river,” one of the residents said.
Chausa and Chitravans in the Buxar district have two popular cremations grounds where dead bodies are consigned to flame day and night.
“We were alerted by the local chowkidar that many bodies have been spotted floating from upstream. We have so far recovered 15 of these. None of the deceased happens to be a resident of the district,” Chausa BDO Ashok Kumar said over the phone.
He said “many Uttar Pradesh districts are situated right across the river and the bodies may have been dumped in the Ganges for reasons not known to us. We cannot confirm whether the deceased were indeed Covid positive. The bodies have started decomposing. But we are taking all precautions while ensuring that these are disposed of in a decent manner”.
Some news channels claimed the number of bodies to be as high as 100, which the BDO dismissed as “highly exaggerated“.
As per official figures, Buxar registered a big surge in the number of Covid cases — from 16 as of March 31 to 1,216 as of May 8 with 26 deaths.
When contacted, Buxar DM Aman Samir confirmed only 30 to 35 unidentified dead bodies were spotted at Chausa.
He denied that bodies in the river were from Buxar’s villages. “Bodies are not of Buxar. It is coming from upstream of Ganga,” DM Buxar Aman Samir said.
With Agency inputs