An incident that occurred at the sadar hospital in north Bihar district headquarters town of Muzaffarpur on Tuesday brought back to mind harrowing August 2016 images of Odisha tribal Dana Manjhi carrying on his shoulder the body of his wife, after being denied a vehicle to carry it to his village for her last rites.
The husband of a female patient, who died late on Tuesday evening, had to carry her dead body for nearly 500 metres before they could hire an autorickshaw, after the hospital administration failed to provide an ambulance or a mortuary van, to take the body home.
The woman, Shyama Devi, had been admitted to the Muzaffarpur sadar hospital for treatment on February 18. However, she succumbed to her ailment on Tuesday evening, according to her husband, Suresh Mandal, a resident of Shivpuri colony of the town, who is a daily wage labourer.
Mandal told reporters his wife was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital, where she breathed her last on Tuesday evening. “Thereafter, we pleaded with the hospital administration to provide us an ambulance to carry her body to my rented house, but the authorities refused,” he said.
“I was left with no option other than to carry my wife’s body on foot with the help of some of my relatives to a place where we could hire an auto-rickshaw. This, too, proved difficult as none was ready to carry a dead body. Finally, a kind-hearted auto-rickshaw driver agreed to help me,” he said.
Dr NK Chaudhury, deputy superintendent of the hospital, said he had no information about the incident. “However, I should make clear that ambulance is provided to carry a patient to another hospital and not to transport a dead body,” he stated.
However, Muzaffarpur civil surgeon Dr Lalitha Singh had a different version of the incident. “Yes, I have been informed about the matter. The driver of the mortuary van was absent. So, the vehicle could not be given. But we made arrangements for hiring an auto-rickshaw from hospital funds,” she said.
District magistrate Dharmendra Singh could not be reached for his comment as he was busy in a meeting.
Sources said this was not the first incident of denial of such facility at the hospital in the last six months. Earlier, a plaster encased patient was forced to crawl on the floor of the hospital in search of ambulance after he was referred to the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, Muzaffarpur’s premier hospital, in August 2016.
In another such incident, police officials had to lug an injured youth to police vehicle for being transported to another facility, after denial of a stretcher.