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Tribal tragedy: Hospital was callous, Odisha govt admits grave lapses

“It (the incident) is very distressing. We have ordered an inquiry and stringent action will be taken against those who are responsible,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in Bengaluru where he is attending Odisha Investors Meet, 2016.

District Collector of Kalahandi Brundha D told reporters at Bhawanipatna that the probe report showed there were “lapses and negligence” on the part of the staff of district headquarter hospital, where the woman was undergoing treatment, and the security agency. Action would be taken against those found responsible for the incident after fixing responsibility, she said, adding steps would also be taken to improve facilities at the hospital.

The collector, who had ordered an inquiry into the August 24 incident, also said Dana Majhi had left the hospital with his wife’s body in the wee hours of August 24 without informing anyone at the hospital.

The hospital, she said, has a hearse but nobody informed the personnel concerned about the death of the woman or the need to carry the body to his village. The district administration had called the man and recorded his statement, the collector said.

Majhi, however, told reporters that he approached the hospital staff but they paid no heed.

“I did not want to keep the body of my wife at the hospital for long and left the place for cremation as per tribal rituals at our village,” he said.

Asked how Majhi was called to Bhawanipatna without being allowed to properly perform a special tribal ritual held on the third day of death, sub-collector Sukanta Tripathy said it was essential to record Majhi’s statement for the inquiry.

“Moreover, we also wanted to give the media an opportunity to speak to him and get his version,” he said.

The incident triggered nation-wide outcry after Majhi, accompanied by his 12-year-old daughter, was seen walking with his wife’s body on his shoulder on being allegedly denied a hearse by the hospital.

An ambulance was arranged only after he had covered 10 km to take the body to his home at Melghara village, about 60 km from Bhawanipatna. 

NHRC issues notice to Odisha over ‘undignified’ treatment to bodies 
Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports about alleged undignified treatment of bodies of two women, the NHRC on Friday issued a notice to the Odisha government and asked it to submit a report within a month.

The notice has been sent through the state chief secretary who has been given four weeks time to submit a report, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said in a press release. The first incident pertains to a man carrying his wife’s body for 10 km as the district headquarters hospital at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi allegedly did not provide him ambulance services.

The second incident is also about the non-availability of ambulance services due to which an old woman’s body was slung on a bamboo pole to carry it in Balasore after she was crushed by a goods train near Soro Railway Station.

The Commission has observed that if found true, both these incidents, raise serious questions about violation of rights of the two deceased persons, the release said. It stated that Right to Life of a person under Article 21 of the Constitution would also mean that a body is treated with respect. 
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