Covid-19 casualty denied dignity in death, body dumped by earthmover

The body could not be cremated in the electric crematorium beacuse it was too large to fit into the oven.
Instead of lowering the body into the grave, municipal staff used an earthmover to dump the body.(Representative Image/HT PHOTO)
Instead of lowering the body into the grave, municipal staff used an earthmover to dump the body.(Representative Image/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jul 06, 2020 09:41 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Hyderabad | BySrinivasa Rao Apparasu| Edited by Sabir Hussain

In yet another instance of inhuman treatment to a deceased Covid-19 patient, municipal staff of the temple town of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district used an earthmover to dump a body into a grave on Monday.

A video of the sanitation staff of the Tirupati Municipal Corporation lifting the dead body of the Covid-19 victim using an earth mover and dumping it into the pit already dug in the graveyard went viral in the social media in the evening.

The body was that of a 50-year old man, a resident of a village on the outskirts of Tirupati, who was admitted to state-run Sri Venkateshwara Ram Narayan Ruia Hospitals last week. He died of Covid-19 on Monday.

The municipal staff, wearing PPE and masks, brought the body in the ambulance belonging to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) to Harischandra Cremation Ground located in the town. They pulled the body out of the ambulance and placed it on the ground.

Also read: Denied cremation over Covid-19 scare, siblings in Odisha bury man’s body

However, instead of carrying the body and lowering into the grave with due respect, they chose to use the earthmover to dump the body. The earthmover was brought there to dig the grave.

After a video of the incident found its way into local television channels, Tirupati municipal commissioner P S Girisha hurriedly called a press conference and gave an explanation. “Generally, we cremate the bodies of Covid-19 victims in the electric crematorium. So far, we have cremated 17 bodies without any complaints,” he said.

Similarly, the body of this particular Covid-19 victim was also taken to the electric crematorium. “However, it was very heavy, weighing around 175-180 kgs, and tall and it did not fit into the pyre. As it was being lifted, the wrapping around the body was torn. As part of standard operating procedure, the body was again taken to the hospital for re-wrapping,” he said.

The municipal authorities finally decided to give it a burial instead of cremation. As per the Covid-19 protocol, they had to dig the pit 14 ft deep using an earthmover. The body was taken to the graveyard in the ambulance.

“The municipal staff were exhausted as they had already carried the heavy weight body three or four times. So, they had to use the earthmover to shift the body from the ambulance to the grave, hardly two metres away and bury it. This was done only after taking the consent of the deceased’s relatives,” Girisha said.

He, however, conceded that the municipal staff should not have used the machine to dump the body in such disrespectful manner. “They should have engaged another five or six more workers to carry the body physically,” the municipal commissioner said.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021