A hospital’s goof-up nearly made a Muslim family in Assam bury the body of an elderly ‘Hindu’ man instead of a young man who had died of a serious ailment on Wednesday. The resultant anger made the state health department order a probe that revealed an employee took money from the family to hand over the wrong body from the morgue.
Imran Ali, 22, died in the ambulance that was bringing him from Dampur village, 30km west of Guwahati, to Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) on Tuesday. Doctors said he died of multi-organ failure. On Wednesday night, the GMCH authorities handed over a shrouded body to Ali’s relatives, who took it to the idgah in Dampur. But while preparing for the last rites at the burial ground nearby, the villagers found the body was not Ali’s. They said it belonged to an elderly Hindu man.
The villagers informed the local police, who took the body back to GMCH. The GMCH authorities said the body was handed over to the Muslim family only after some members identified it as Ali’s. “One of the identifiers said he was the uncle of the deceased,” GMCH principal AK Adhikari said. The faux pas made health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma order a probe on Thursday.
Investigation revealed Toufiq Ali, a contractual employee, took Rs 2,000 from the family to give them a body from the morgue. He was sacked. “Toufiq told the family getting the body the official way would be expensive and time-consuming. Not willing to waste time, the villagers gave him the money and, without checking the corpse, left the hospital in haste possibly to avoid us,” a senior health officer said.
GMCH superintendent Babu Bezbaruah said they were making arrangements to send Ali’s body to his parents. “The other body remains unidentified and unclaimed. The police usually dispose of such bodies within 72 hours of their recovery,” he said. The GMCH was in the news last month when a three-and-a-half-year old boy contracted HIV after blood transfusion.