In 2015, Maharashtra ranked highest in the number of unidentified dead bodies found in the country with 6,185, says National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. The country recorded 34,592 unidentified dead bodies last year.
As per the statistics, 6,185 unidentified dead bodies were found across the state followed by Tamil Nadu (3,739), Karnataka (3,533), Uttar Pradesh (3,409), West Bengal (3,086), Delhi UT (3,063), Gujarat (2,416) among other states.
The issue of unidentified bodies was in news in the state after the body of Sheena Bora, who was allegedly murdered in April 2012, was found in 2012 in a thickly forested area in Gagode village of Raigad district, but was tagged as unidentified. However, the body was identified in 2015, after one of the accused was arrested and various tests were conducted to identify the body. This has led to the arrests of Indrani Mukerjea, wife media baron Peter Mukerjea and Sheena’s mother, Indrani’s ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and driver Shyamvar Rai. Later, Peter was also arrested.
The numbers may be attributed to the rising number of homeless people in the state. “There are varied reasons. In my experience, I have seen families not accepting bodies as the person admitted in hospital was suffering from HIV or tuberculosis. They fear social stigma while accepting the body. Many old beggars are found who die on roads and there is no one to claim the body,” said Kishore Bhatt, 66, a city-based businessman who arranges funerals for unclaimed bodies from Sadgati foundation.
Bhatt has conducted funerals of over 3,000 unidentified and unclaimed bodies since his teenage days. “In a city like Mumbai, there are many who come alone to make a living and hence it becomes very difficult for the police to trace relatives after their death. Police try hard to trace families but then dispose such bodies off if they are unclaimed for months. In some cases, the families come in after the final rites have already been conducted after waiting for long,” added Bhatt.
The statistics revealed that states like Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Island, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep has no cases of unidentified bodies found. As no one came to claim the dead bodies, experts believe that most of the homeless are proclaimed as unidentified while others might be people who have broken all ties with families and were living without identity or are runaway persons.