"I know this is not him," murmured a young wife each time she removed the white satin covering the face of those killed in Kolkata’s AMRI Hospital fire. The woman came out the SSKM hospital morgue with a wry smile, saying "Maybe he is alive" but her hopes were soon dashed.
An ambulance carrying three more dead bodies halted near the morgue gate and one of the three was that of her husband. She stared blankly at the body before breaking down inconsolably.
The steady flow of bodies continued as ambulances carrying them entered the SSKM hospital one by one and after autopsy and identification, the bodies were handed over to their relatives.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was present at the scene not only consoling the wailing relatives and family members but also directing the authorities over a microphone to expedite the procedural formalities for the families to take back the dead.
Several relatives and family members continued to wait for the bodies to arrive while others jostled with others to complete the formalities.
Banerjee who had ready assistance in form of several of her ministerial colleagues, said: "61 bodies have been brought here so far. Of them post mortem has been performed already on 46 and 16 of the bodies have been identified."
However, relatives of the dead were angry at the delays and the provision.
"Why my son had to be cut into pieces. I know he is dead... I don’t want to know why he is dead. Why could they not spare my child the pain of post mortem?” shouted a father over the body of son which was handed to him after the autopsy.
"My son was doing fine. After requesting the hospital (AMRI) for discharge since the last three days, they had agreed to discharge him today (Friday). They wanted to make money so they had kept him there. Had they released him earlier, he would have been alive,” said the father who had come all the way from Midnapore (in West Midnapore) to take back his son after being discharged by the hospital.
Ronojoy Guha, who lost his sister-in-law Parama Chakraborty in the tragedy, accused the hospital staff of being "inhuman"."The bodies recovered from the site were kept in a heap. I and my brother had to find out Parama from the heap. How can they be so inhuman to treat the bodies as lifeless objects?" Family members slam Mamata
The area around the morgue wore ghastly look as one after another wailing ambulances entered with bodies in them while distraught relatives and family members fought their tears and completed the procedural formalities to back the bodies of their dear ones for the last rites.
As Banerjee announced that the license of the hospital has been cancelled and the owners would be arrested, the angry family members demanded the culprits be hanged for killing their loved ones.