As Chandrawati lit the pyre of her husband Bhagwan Dass (32), one of the victims of last Sunday's factory collapse, she was not alone in thinking how her husband had not even got to be cremated in his native village. And she was not alone.
The rescue teams had so far recovered 23 bodies from the debris, and all the deceased were cremated at local cremation grounds, none taken to his native place.
Even as the administration and the relatives of the victims traded charges over claimed arrangements for taking the bodies 'home', all the relatives could manage on their own was a photographer, who clicked their pictures with the bodies. "I will show this picture to my family. Maybe it will give them some solace," said one.
Most of the workers who died in the collapse were from Bihar, Jharakhand Uttar Pradesh or West Bengal.
"Carrying out the last rites is the duty of the eldest son as per Hindu traditions. But our relatives just could not make it," said Rajesh Kumar, nephew of Bhagwan Dass, who belonged to district Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
"Then the elders decided that my aunt (Bhagwan's wife) should carry out the rituals," added Rajesh, as he watched Chandrawati finding it hard to hold back tears. Chandrawati told HT that she had three sons, but none probably knows that their father is dead.
Nearby, Pathlu Ram lit the pyre of his grandson Mintu. "My son (Mintu's father) had died seven years ago. Mintu was close to his mother, who could not even see (her son) Mintu's face one last time," he rued, consoled by some people from his village who were present.
Many alleged that the state government did not make arrangements to take the bodies to their native places. Deputy commissioner (DC) Priyank Bharti, however, claimed that the administration had arranged "AC vehicles" to take the bodies to their villages. "But no one availed the service."
When asked if there was lack of awareness about the arrangements, if any, the DC replied, "No, we had told the relatives. But no one approached us to use the facility."
Rajesh claimed there was no such service.
After the post-mortem, the civil hospital staff asked relatives to take the bodies to the cremation ground of Harnamdas Pura, where the cremations took place.
Families yet to receive compensation
Though the state government has announced rupees three lakh as compensation to family of the each deceased, but this was not given yet. DC said that they would give compensation by tomorrow.