It's 5:30 pm. Two unclaimed bodies are lying near the main entrance of railway reservation office at Patna junction. Uncared, unattended. Passengers come, watch them from a distance and take the circuitous route to the reservation office.
Yes, this is Patna junction where unclaimed bodies greet passengers visiting one of the model railway stations of the country.
On any given day, at least two to three bodies can be seen lying near the building that houses the ticket reservation office, making movement of the passengers difficult.
“It was really heartening to see Railway Minister supervising cleanliness at Patna Junction on Sunday. But it was difficult to figure out why he did not visit this part of the premise,” asked Sanjay Kumar, an advocate in Patna High Court.
Kumar has a point. Not a single day passes when one cannot see an unclaimed body lying near the reservation office. It is not that the Government Rail Police (GRP) and railway authorities are not in the know of it.
“On an average, 50-60 unclaimed bodies are dumped after being collected from the railway premises each month,” accepts GRP inspector, Alok Kumar.
As usual, both the railways and the GRP pass the buck on one-another and shy away from disposing of the unclaimed bodies. “The GRP personnel dump the bodies outside the reservation office,” DRM Danapur, Pankaj Jain alleged. “Who says so? It is not our duty. The Railways has a separate fund for it and staff to dispose it of. We only provide the memos to railways,” said the DIG (railways), Ajoy Kumar Verma.
He claimed that in fact the GRP facilitates early disposal, ensures quick post-mortem of unnatural death cases while in case of natural death, the last rites are performed as per the deceased’s religion.
The Railways provide Rs 500 for the disposal of each body. Moreover, there is a separate room earmarked for keeping such bodies on the station premises.
However, there is a humane side of this too. Many a times, poor families leave the body near the reservation counter hoping to get some donation for performing the last rites.