Hundreds of skeletons found near Muzaffarpur hospital

Patna: SK Memorial government hospital where over 172 children have died of encephalitis, is the news again on Saturday. Over 100 skeletons were found in the hospital premises with 15 of them burnt within a week, hospital staff said. The hospital premises seemed to resemble a cremation ground. Hospital staff claimed that 15 unclaimed bodies were burnt before the arrival of chief minister Nitish Kumar in the hospital last week. Some of the corpses were found burnt two days ago, hospital staff said. Principal secretary of health department, Sanjay Kumar, on Saturday confirmed recovery of the skeletons from the hospital premises and said the district magistrate of Muzaffarpur has been asked to conduct a detailed probe. “These are the remains of the human bodies not burnt properly,” he said.

DM of Muzaffarpur,Ashish Ranjan Ghosh said it was the practice to burn unclaimed bodies in the post mortem room after 72 hours in the hospital backyard. Now, instructions have been issued to burn bodies in the adjoining Dadar ghat crematorium. Kaushal Kishore, additional secretary of health department, who visited the site on Saturday put the blame on the police authorities. He said according to the practise, if a body remains unclaimed in the post-mortem room even after 72 hours, the police is informed. Administration gives Rs 2000 per body for cremation. Police arranges cremation through the locally available scavangers (Doms). The patient relief committee co-ordinates with police authorities for cremation, he said.

Sona Prasad Singh, officer-in-charge of Ahiyapur police station near the hospital said, "Police is investigating foulplay". An employee of the post-mortem room said woods logs are not arranged for cremation, hence the bodies remained either half burnt or partially burnt. Hospital superintendent, SK Shahi said, “It is inhuman. A corpse has to be kept in the post-mortem room for 72 hours. If it remains unclaimed even after three days, principal of the college hands over the body to the local police for "decent" cremation. While the superintendent blamed the post-mortem staff and principal, the district magistrate in turn blamed the NGOs (Rogi Kalyan Samiti) for the inhuman action.

- CHHAYA MISHRA

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