Disquieting scenes from the Lucknow crematorium of endless funeral fires and reports of irregularities in the number of deaths have sparked a response from authorities in the Uttar Pradesh capital: Block the view with blue metal sheets.
Workers were seen tying up the metal sheets, often found at construction sites, a day after reports questioned a mismatch in between the official figure of deaths because of COVID-19 and the data from the crematoriums.
The move also comes a day after a video of the crematorium with a large number of burning pyres was widely shared on social media, triggering concern.
This video is of the crematorium ghat located in Bhainsakund, Lucknow. I am not able to give speech and am knowledgeable, so just understand that when the change in the governance event, the situation on the ground is like this.#Lucknow#stayhomestaysafe#मोदी_सरकार_ध्यान_दो ???? pic.twitter.com/NmBMYQILMS— Deepak Chandra joshi (@DeepakJ02841911) April 15, 2021
Along with the sheets, a new notice put up outside the crematorium announced that unauthorised people were now no longer allowed to enter since it was a "COVID-19 affected area". Trespassers have been warned of strict action.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was among those who called the move an attempt to hide the truth.
"There is a request to the Government of Uttar Pradesh: It's futile to spend time, resources and energy into hiding, suppressing this tragedy. Take concrete steps to prevent the epidemic, save lives and prevent the spread of infection. This is the call of the hour," she wrote in Hindi on Twitter.
Lucknow is among the cities in the country that have seen an alarming rise in coronavirus cases prompting the Uttar Pradesh government to announce new restrictions such as an extended night curfew. Lucknow now has over 31,000 active COVID-19 cases, 10 times more than what they were just two weeks ago.
Last evening, Uttar Pradesh reported a massive 20,510 new COVID-19 infections, its highest figure in a 24-hour period. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was among them.
The state also reported 68 deaths but the numbers have been questioned by many after a discrepancy of 276 deaths over a 7-day period emerged this week between numbers officially reported by the government and records at the crematorium.
The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday called the government's night curfew an inadequate measure and asked it to consider imposing a full lockdown in worst-hit areas.