Bhubaneswar: Gati Dhibar, a man from Odisha's Angul district, walked from a hospital with his five-year-old daughter's body for a kilometre before finding transport to go home to his village and perform last rites. The incident was filmed on mobile phones and widely shared, bringing back memories of Dana Majhi, a tribal man who walked over 10 kilometres with his wife's dead body in Kalahandi.
Odisha has a free hearse service under the Mahaprayan scheme for the underprivileged, but the hearse vans are usually stationed at district hospitals and not at primary health centres. This is to ensure that the dead are disposed of with dignity even if their families cannot afford these services.
Mr Dhibar left the community health centre with his daughter Sumi on his shoulders without informing authorities after she was declared dead, but the authorities at the hospital took no further responsibility.
The Pallahara Community Health Centre does not have a hearse under the Mahaprayan scheme but calls for the van stationed at the district hospital. District authorities say if Mr Dhibar had waited he would have got a hearse van on request.
According to the administration, normally the bodies are taken away in local vehicles and tribals are immediately reimbursed through local Red Cross. Two staff members of the hospital have been removed for negligence including a junior hospital manager and security staff who should have prevented Mr Dhibar from walking out with the body. The Sub Divisional Medical Officer has been asked to explain why action should not be taken against him as well.
District Collector Anil Kumar Samal told NDTV, "We have facilities to ensure that the dead are treated with respect and in a dignified manner. Action has been taken where a lapse has been noticed."