It was a swap of the dead! Arrival of a corpse of Muslim Fatima in place of Hindu Subodh Pandey sparked off an agitation in Deoria.
Due to laxity of administrative officers at the Mumbai airport, corpse of Fatima was transported by plane to Deoria where wailing parents and relatives of Subodh waited with wet eyes for their dear departed.
Subodh worked with Ali Hamid Shipping Company in Tehran, Iran. He died in Auckland port where the ship had anchored with goods. Subodh had fallen from the upper deck. Another ship hit the anchored ship of Subodh and he fell in the icy water.
Some days ago, his workmate in the same company Purandar Tewari informed Subodh's father and the family eagerly waited for the body's arrival.
The body arrived on August 9 at Mumbai airport and reached Delhi from where it was transported to Chaturi village in Deoria district. When his father Narsingh Tewari and others opened the coffin at Shamshan Ghat, they found the corpse of a Muslim woman wrapped in a "Taboot."
They later learnt that the airport authorities either in Delhi or in Mumbai were responsible for the blunder.
Soon angry villagers staged a roadblock. Police had to resort to force to get the road blockade removed after several hours.
Later on, the body of Fatima was sent to Gorukhpur from where it would be sent to Delhi under notification to External Affairs Ministry.
Twenty-three-year Subodh was the only son of his parents. His body is still awaited. It is still not known where it is.