Kolkata Police Action On Sharing Appalling Videos Of Disposal Of Unclaimed Human Bodies Sparks Outrage

by Swarajya Staff - Jun 12, 2020 10:45 AM
Kolkata Police Action On Sharing Appalling Videos Of Disposal Of Unclaimed Human Bodies Sparks OutrageKolkata Police. (Wikimedia Commons) 
Snapshot
  • Citizens stated that instead of focusing on the issue of degrading handling of bodies, the authorities were concerning themselves with punishing those who had exposed the KMC.

A few video clips of the horrific manner of handling unclaimed bodies lying in a morgue of a state-run hospital in Kolkata that were circulated widely on social media on Wednesday evening and Thursday has sparked widespread outrage.

But the threat of legal action by Kolkata Police against those circulating the video clips has triggered further anger and condemnation. Governor Jagdeep Dhankar also waded into the controversy and decried the police action.

The video clips showed a man unceremoniously dragging corpses and loading them onto a mini pickup belonging to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).

It seems that the bodies had been brought from the morgue of the state-run Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College Hospital (NRSMCH) in east-central Kolkata and taken to a crematorium in Garia in the southern fringes of Kolkata on Wednesday.

But local people, alerted by the stench emanating from the bodies, flocked to the crematorium and locked its gates. Some of them alleged that the bodies were those of Covid-19 positive victims and refused to allow their cremation there.

Faced with public protests, the bodies were then loaded back onto the pickup and taken away. The locals took videos of a man dragging the bodies with a long pair of tongs and circulated them. The videos went viral and were shared widely on social media on Thursday.

Some people who posted the video clips of the disgraceful handling of the bodies made the mistake of stating that they were bodies of Covid-19 positive victims. The NRSMCH principal Saibal Kumar Mukherjee was quick to issue a denial and said the bodies were unclaimed and lying in the hospital’s morgue.

Mukherjee also wrote to Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma stating that “the subject of video is fake” and requested Sharma to “take necessary action”. Kolkata Police quickly identified at least one Twitter user who had posted the videos claiming that the bodies were those of Covid victims.

But the threat of action by the Kolkata Police sparked outrage with citizens stating that instead of focusing on the primary issue of degrading handling of bodies and denying dignity to the dead, the authorities were concerning themselves with punishing those who had exposed the KMC.

Governor Dhankar decried the manner in which the bodies were handled and criticised the police for threatening action against citizens. One of his tweets said: “The issue is not whether the dead bodies were Covid ones! This is a matter of probe. Issue-How human bodies can be so shamelessly dragged! Being treated worse than animals. To those engaging in diversion - search your soul and conscience and imaging dead body was related to you!”

The Governor asked the state administration for an explanation, and received a reply from the state Home Secretary. Dhankar claimed that the Home Secretary had admitted to the “callous handling” of the bodies and promised that procedures would be streamlined. He echoed the outrage of citizens when he said that “rather than booking those responsible for such inhuman criminality, police are being misused to ‘teach a lesson’ to those who exposed it”.

He also said in another tweet: “We are not a police state. To inject such fear in public is authoritarianism. Repressive measures do not augur well for democracy….muzzling of media or people by police arm twisting will not work anymore”.

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