A farmer's death in a road accident has brought to light the lack of facility to preserve mortal remains at civil hospital, Bassi Pathana.
Gurbhagat Singh (57), a resident of Bhangua village, was killed on Saturday evening when his motorcycle skidded off road near Dedran village. The farmer, who was returning home, died of head injuries. On receipt of information, a team of Bassi Pathana police reached the spot and took the body to the civil hospital for post mortem.
As the body was kept at the hospital mortuary, the victim's relatives said it should be kept in freezer as the victim's son is in Italy and the body will be cremated only after he reaches India. However, when they contacted the hospital authorities, they were told that the freezer of the mortuary is not working.
Fearing that the body may decompose if not kept in freezer, the kin requested a local gurdwara to send their freezer. Lawyer Surinder Singh Duffera said the Punjab health department should look into the matter.
As per a local police official, the hospital freezer is out of order for a long time. Not only of Bassi Pathana but freezer at Fatehgarh Sahib is also non-functional.
A Bassi Pathana resident, Ravinder Kumar, said, "To allow the body to rot is an act of deep inhumanity and allowing mortuary freezers to remain non-functional is not a technical matter, but a serious violation of human rights."
According to religious customs, rituals for the body are sacred, which family and friends venerate by keeping it clean and ensuring that it is disposed of with due care. Therefore, a body kept in a mortuary before being handed over to family should be handled respectfully.
On the other hand, for legal purposes, a body is the last and best evidence when foul play is suspected in an unnatural death case. The loss of evidence due to decay can dramatically affect the outcome of a court case.
A senior doctor, while pleading anonymity, said they have already written to the health department to get the freezer repaired as soon as possible so that the bodies can be handled and preserved properly.