Just a day after a tribal man in Odisha was forced to carry his dead wife on his shoulders back home as he couldn’t afford a vehicle, another heart-wrenching incident was reported from the state’s Balasore district today. Some hospital workers in Balasore district broke the bones of a woman’s body before wrapping it in a sheet and slinging it on a bamboo pole in Balasore due to unavailability of an ambulance, The Indian Express (IE) reported.
The woman, Salamani Behera, 80, had died after she was run over by a goods train near Soro railway station on Wednesday morning. Her body was taken to Soro Community Health Centre (CHC). The Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel reached the CHC only around 12 hours after they were informed. The body had to be taken to Balasore for post-mortem but there was no ambulance.
IE quoted Soro GRP assistant sub-inspector Pratap Rudra Mishra as saying that he had asked an auto-rickshaw driver to take the body to the railway station so that it could by taken to Balasore, which is about 30 km from Soro, by train. Mishra told IE that the driver had asked Rs 3,500 for the task but they are not allowed to spend more than Rs 1,000 on such “purposes”. The GRP officials then asked some Grade IV workers of the CHC to carry the body to the railway station which is about 2 km from the CHC.
However, as the joints and muscles of the body had become stiff, the workers broke the body from the hip, wrapped in an old sheet and tied it to a bamboo pole to take it to the railway station, Mishra said.
Behera’s son Rabindra Barik, 60, was shocked at the treatment meted out to his mother’s body. Even Odisha Human Rights Commission took suo motu notice of the incident and issued a notice to the Inspector General, GRP and Balasore District Collector, asking them to order a probe and submit the report in four weeks.
On Thursday, a video of a tribal man carrying his dead wife on his shoulders, as he couldn’t pay for a vehicle and the hospital authorities allegedly denied him an ambulance, sparked an outrage across the country, forcing the Kalahandi district administration to order a probe into the alleged denial of a vehicle to the man, Dana Manjhi. However, the report submitted on Thursday evening gave a clean chit to the hospital staff. The incident, however, left the state government embarrassed, forcing Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to launch a free hearse/ambulance van scheme called Mahaprayan. It will be operational in all 30 districts of the state and three medical colleges.