Durga Sumithra, 40, and Muniraju, in his 50s, died on July 2 last year, as per documents from the ESI Hospital at Rajajinagar in Bengaluru.
Nearly a year and a half after they lost their loved ones to Covid, two families in Bengaluru have received news that’s as painful as their loss — the bodies have been rotting for over a year in the hospital’s mortuary.
Durga Sumithra, 40, and Muniraju, in his 50s, died on July 2 last year, as per documents from Employees’ State Insurance Corporation and Model Hospital at Rajajinagar in Bengaluru. At the time, the city was witnessing a surge in cases and the health infrastructure was under strain. The rise in cases had also thrown up heart-rending scenes of families not getting a final glimpse of the ones they lost owing to infection risks.
In Bengaluru, the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) was overseeing the hospital bed situation and had also taken control of a part of beds in private facilities to ensure people in need can get admitted.
Family members of the two patients say civic and hospital authorities did not hand over the body to them, citing infection risks, and informed them that they were cremated.
A year later, in a rude shock, the families were informed that the bodies of their loved ones were actually rotting in the hospital’s morgue after housekeeping staff chanced upon them and alerted authorities.
Hospital authorities have now come under fire for this act of negligence. An investigation has been launched to find out how this happened. As for the bodies, a postmortem will be conducted and legal formalities completed before they are handed over to the families.
Visuals from the hospital showed the shell-shocked family members as they reached the hospital after getting information about a development that has stoked their grief.
Sujhata, sister of Durga, said they had found the bed at ESI hospital after a frantic search last year. “She (Durga) was infected with Covid. We were searching for a bed desperately but could not find any. Eventually, we found one at ESI hospital. She died after 4 days in hospital,” said Sujhata.
“Because it was Covid, they didn’t hand over the body to us. We returned home. After a few days, we received a call from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), stating that they cremated the body. It is almost 15 months now and three days back we received a call. When we got the call, we were scared whether it was true or false,” she added.
Muniraju’s son Satish had a similar experience to share. “When we received a call from the hospital, saying that he was no more, we asked them for the body. But BBMP authorities told us that it was cremated. Later, when we went to collect the death certificate, they reiterated it and told us to sign the relevant documents.
Meanwhile, Rajajinagar’s BJP MLA Suresh Kumar has written to Karnataka Labour Minister A Shivaram Hebbar, requesting him to raise the matter with the Union Labour Ministry, under which the hospital falls.”The role of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and the ESI authorities is grave. In this regard, I request you order a high-level probe, get the detailed inquiry report and initiate stringent action against those who are responsible for this inhumane act,” Mr Kumar wrote in the letter he also shared with the media.