Authorities at the KEM hospital have come in for severe criticism for marking numbers on the bodies of the Elphinstone station stampede victims and putting up their pictures on public display. The hospital claimed the measure was taken to “avoid chaos”. The pictures of the victims, with numbers on their foreheads, were put up on a flex board at the hospital to expedite the process of identification, it said. The move created outrage on social media with people lambasting the hospital for its insensitivity. “Is KEM hospital affixing nos on bodies of deceased to identify & count the dead? So terrible! No respect! (sic)” tweeted a user.
“Stampede is depressing! What is more depressing is the attitude of authorities towards the dead bodies! (sic)” another Twitter post read. The hospital said it would have been a “big mental trauma to make all the relatives see all 22 bodies” for identification. “It would have become a chaotic and hectic exercise,” said Dr Harish Pathak, head of the forensic science department of the KEM hospital.
He issued a statement late in the evening to defend the hospital’s decision. “Hence, we took photographs of all the bodies, numbered them and displayed them to the relatives on a laptop screen” and a flex board thereafter, reads the statement. The numbers were erased after the autopsies, it said. He even went ahead and claimed it would be unjustified and unwise to criticise the scientific method adopted by the hospital for “speedy, honourable and smooth identification” of the victims.