Kolkata: A disturbing video showing decomposed bodies, allegedly of COVID-19 victims, being loaded into a van by the city’s civic body in daylight for cremation went viral on social media on Thursday. But, the West Bengal Health Department and the city police said the video was “fake” and that the bodies were unclaimed ones from a hospital morgue. Also Read - Coronavirus in Maharashtra: Total COVID Cases Cross 2.25 Lakh-mark, 219 Fresh Deaths
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar took to Twitter to express concern over the video. Tagging Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the governor said he shared “public outrage and deep concern at most unconscionable heart rendering callous dragging of dead bodies reflected in videos.” He also sought a report regarding the incident from the state home secretary. Also Read - Did You Know? Self-Isolation May Increase Susceptibility to COVID-19
In yet another post in the micro-blogging site, the governor said “Response @HomeSecretaryWB has come. Virtual admission about callous handling of dead bodies promising procedure will be streamlined. Rather than booking those responsible for such inhuman criminality, the police are being misused to ‘teach a lesson’ to those who exposed it.” Also Read - Mohammed Shami Reveals Why he Will Have An Advantage Once BCCI Starts Camp
Kolkata police also issued a statement saying that it was fake news and the bodies were not of COVID-19 patients. “The West Bengal Health Department has informed that dead bodies were not of COVID patients, but were unclaimed/unidentified bodies from Hospital Morgue. Legal action is being taken against persons spreading #FakeNews (sic),” the Kolkata Police said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, the video also showed protests by locals at Garia, a suburb in the southern fringes of the city where the incident had allegedly taken place, who claimed that the bodies were those of novel coronavirus victims.
The video showed personnel of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation loading the decomposed bodies into a van allegedly outside Garia crematorium. It also showed locals objecting to the cremation of a number of decomposed bodies at the same place.
According to the locals, the cremation of so many decomposed bodies of COVID-19 patients at the crematorium located in the vicinity of a densely populated locality at a time when the city is witnessing rising cases of the contagion would harm public health.
The principal of NRS Medical College, Saibal Kumar Mukherjee, wrote to Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma that 14 unclaimed bodies were handed over to the KMC as per the list provided by different police stations under the jurisdiction of the hospital’s morgue.
“And none of these bodies were of COVID patients. The subject of this video is fake, and you may take necessary action in this regard,” Mukherjee said in his letter.
The opposition CPI (M) and BJP criticised the state government and alleged that the “video clip is a proof of the TMC trying to hide the actual number of COVID-19 deaths in the state”.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said it must be ascertained whether the bodies are of those who died of COVID-19.
(With agency inputs)