Denied a mortuary van at a government hospital and unable to afford a private ambulance, a man in Purnia district of north-eastern Bihar carried the body of his wife on a motorcycle, to reach his village home for her last rites.
The man who experienced the trauma in Purnia was Shankar Sah, 60, a resident of Ranibari village under Shrinagar police station of Purnia district, whose wife, Susheela Devi, 50, died of illness at the Purnia sadar hospital on Friday.
“After the death of my wife I was told to take away the body and when I requested the medical staff on duty for a vehicle, to carry it back to my village, they told me to arrange for it on my own,” said Sah.
He, then, approached the driver of an ambulance, who demanded Rs 2,500, which he could not afford.
Sah’s son, Pappu, 32, then placed Susheela’s body on a motorcycle, with Sah himself holding it as pillion rider, to transport it to their village home.
Both father and son are wage labourers and were working in Punjab when they were informed that Susheela had taken ill. They rushed back and got her admitted to the Purnia sadar hospital, where she died of her illness.
Asked about the incident, Purnia civil surgeon M M Wasim said, “No mortuary van is available at the sadar hospital, at present, as the one it had is not functional. So, everyone has to arrange one on his own.”
District magistrate Pankaj Kumar Pal said the incident was unfortunate and he had already ordered a probe into the circumstances in which the woman’s body had to be transported on a motorcycle.
“A two-member committee, consisting of an additional district magistrate (ADM) and civil surgeon, has been constituted to go into the incident. The committee has been asked to submit its report within two days” he said.
The Purnia incident happened just a day after news footage of the body of a destitute woman being wheeled in a garbage cart to the Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur for post-mortem examination, caused an outrage and prompted the district authorities to initiate an inquiry.
Earlier, in March this year, relatives of another woman who died at the Muzaffarpur sadar hospital, were forced to carry her body on foot for about 500 metres before they could engage an auto-rickshaw to take it home. This, too, happened after they were allegedly denied an ambulance at the hospital.
These incidents brought back to mind harrowing August 2016 images of Odisha tribal Dana Manjhi carrying on his shoulder the body of his wife, after being denied a vehicle by a Kalahandi hospital to carry it to his village for her last rites.