Opinion

Dead Bodies Floating in the Ganga Paint an Apocalyptic Picture of Second Wave of COVID-19 in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar

Amid the Covid surge that is wreaking havoc across India, the administration in Bihar’s Buxar district on Monday found at least 45 dead bodies, most in a decomposed stage, in the Ganga, and claimed they had been thrown into the river in upstream Uttar Pradesh.

Several bodies, decomposed, bloated and suspected to be of people who succumbed to COVID-19, were on last Monday found floating in the river Ganga in a Bihar district. Around four dozen of corpses were spotted at the two cremation ghats on the banks of Ganga in the district and according to locals, who talked to the media on the phone, said, though many of them were seen floating from west to east (from UP to Bihar), a few of them landed on the banks near Mahadev and Simri cremation Ghats.

“Even as the district administration has been claiming that these bodies have come from adjoining UP districts of Varanasi and Ghazipur with the flow of water in the river, still a few of the bodies were seen tied with bamboos, which indicate that people have come here and abandoned the bodies for fear COVID-19 infections,” said Kalicharan Singh, a resident of Chausa block in the district, whose residence is nearby.

He went on to add: “Even the charges of cremation, which used to be between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 6,000 in normal times, have now gone up manifold, as they are now charging Rs. 16,000 to Rs. 20,000. This may also be the reason for people to abandon their dead bodies,”

However, talking to the media the District magistrate of Buxar Aman Sameer said, “After finding dead bodies on the banks of river Ganges, senior officials of the district were rushed to the spot and they made an assessment of the situation. They have found that the bodies have reached the district with the flow of water in the river. Till now we have found 48 bodies and made all the arrangements for their respectful disposal.”

Meanwhile, officials from UP’s Gamhar block of the Ghazipur district have also reached to Buxar and a coordinated effort are on to ensure that bodies are not thrown in the river, said a district officer, adding that near the border, the Ganges enter Bihar in a triangular shape and so water flow is faster and makes it easy for people to throw bodies in the river.

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.

Often family members of a COVID victim are not handed over the body by the administration which claims it would perform the last rites observing the protocol in place for the deadly virus, another local stated. “What indeed happens is that the officials develop cold feet later and fearing that they might catch the infection themselves, they dump the bodies in the river and flee. Little do they realize that they are also polluting the river,” he added.

Buxar SDO K.K. Upadhyay said: “During preliminary investigation, it has appeared that the dead bodies are in decomposed state and more than 5 to 6 days old. We are interacting with our counterparts in Varanasi and Allahabad (Prayagraj) to investigate the incident and intensify vigil in the areas located on the banks of the Ganga.”

Despite the district administration of disposal of dead bodies is underway in a proper manner, the situation in Mahadev Ghat is extremely shocking, with the dead bodies flowing in the river being torn apart from street dogs and vultures.

The Digpu News Bottomline

The statistics of COVID deaths being reported across the country and especially in the state of Uttar Pradesh are already under the shadow of manipulation. While the Ajay Singh Bisht led BJP Government in Uttar Pradesh continue to live in denial of these COVID deaths and Oxygen shortage in the state, it appears that the dead have taken it upon themselves to bring the truth in front of the world.

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