Due to the advancing monsoon, bodies buried in the shallow graves in the sandbanks of Ganga in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj have started floating up. As the water level rises, the sandbanks are left to collapse. The bodies are suspected to be of COVID patients.
Video and photos taken by local journalists at different ghats in Prayagraj, over the last two days, showed authorities recovering the bodies.
A photograph taken on Wednesday, 23 June, showed a body caught on the riverbank with a hand in a white surgical glove sticking out from a saffron shroud. A team from the Prayagraj municipal corporation pulled out the body.
Similarly, a video from another ghat showed two men recover another shroud-covered body from the river and placing it on the sand bank.
Local journalists have obtained many such visuals, followed by others showing the subsequent cremation.
Some Bodies Were Buried Recently
Niraj Kumar Singh, a zonal officer for the Prayagraj Municipal Corporation said, "We are cremating all bodies individually and following all rituals," NDTV reported. He told the media that he had cremated 40 bodies in the last 24 hours.
Asked about a body where an oxygen tube could be seen in the mouth of the dead person, Singh admitted that it looked the person was ill before death.
Singh was quoted as saying, "You can see that the person was ill, and the family dumped the person here and went away. Maybe they were scared, I cannot say." He added that not all the bodies were decomposed and that the condition of some indicated they were recently buried.
Prayagraj mayor, Abhilasha Gupta Nandi, who was filmed helping with the cremations on the river banks, stated that the state had a long tradition of burial by many communities.
While bodies buried in the mud are dissolved, the sandbanks tend to preserve them. She added, "Wherever we find exposed bodies because of the spate in the river, we are carrying out cremations,” NDTV reported.
Visuals of orange shroud-covered mass graves in Ganga’s sand banks in various locations in UP and Bihar had generated international headlines earlier, highlighting the devastating impact of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only did the visuals highlight the incapacity of crematoriums, but also gave rise to the suspicion that COVID deaths were being under-reported.
However, the Uttar Pradesh government denied that the shallow graves had anything to do with the pandemic and claimed that burial by the river is a long-standing tradition.
Keeping in mind next year’s Assembly elections, there have been rumours against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his government’s handling of the COVID pandemic, which many fear has upset his popularity in the state.
(With inputs from NDTV)
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