July 3rd, 2017
On 1 July, a man named Dhani Sahu from Puri, Odisha carried the corpse of his daughter on a pedal cart at night after allegedly failing to get a hearse vehicle.
Reports state that Sahu was carrying his daughter Kabi’s body from the hospital to the crematorium amidst thousands of Lord Jagannath devotees.
District officials explicitly claimed that Dhani Sahu did not seek a hearse van, which is offered to poor people by Odisha government free of cost.
No one from the police or the crowd offered any help to Sahu while he carried his daughter’s corpse on the pedal cart to Swargadwar crematorium.
Sahu had used the same pedal cart to bring her daughter to the hospital after she complained of chest pain. He claims the authorities failed to provide a single ambulance out of 108 which the state government has provided.
As reported by Hindustan Times, Sahu said, “I brought my daughter at 4 pm to the hospital after which she was put on saline. The hospital staff then put her on oxygen mask. She died 15 minutes later. After that, when I looked for a van there was none.”
Madhusudan Das, sub-collector from Puri, blamed Sahu of not seeking any hearse vehicle on his own. He further added, “We have ordered a probe to find out who is at fault. All sort of support will be provided by the district administration to Sahu.”
The incident comes a year after Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched the free hearse van scheme Mahaprayan in government hospitals following widespread outrage over a Kalahandi tribal Dana Majhi having to carry the dead body of his wife for 10 km on his shoulders from the district hospital after failed to get a hearse vehicle.
Similar tragic instances
There is not only Sahu or Majhi who have been through this tragedy. There are a number of people who had to carry the dead bodies of their kin on shoulders, in trolley rickshaws or motorcycles.
The incident brings back memories of five similar incidents in recent months.
- August 2016, Odisha: A man, Dana Majhi, walked 10 km with his wife’s body on his shoulder along with his 12-year-old daughter. He had no vehicle to take home his wife’s body from a government hospital. His wife died of tuberculosis at the hospital in Kalahandi; she was only 42.
- August 2016, Uttar Pradesh: 12-year-old Ansh had to die on his father’s shoulder after he was allegedly turned down at the government-run Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital in Kanpur.
- October 2016, Gujarat: In Dang district of Gujarat, a man was forced to carry the dead body of 14-year-old Minesh Palara because of the unavailability of an ambulance.
- January 2017, Odisha: A villager named Gati Dhibar, of Pechamundi village, from eastern Odisha’s Angul district, had to walk 15 km carrying his dead daughter on his shoulders after failing to get free hearse service.
- May 2017, Uttar Pradesh: Udayveer, a poor labourer was forced to carry son’s dead body as he was not provided with a stretcher or an ambulance by the doctors of the government hospital he had approached for help.