Dead bodies of suspected Covid patients continue to be spotted floating on the Ganga River, triggering shock and anger among locals in parts of Bihar and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh with no one to hold accountability. The frightening visuals of corpses have also sparked huge health concerns in rural areas, as the country fights a pandemic that affects lakhs every day.
After more than 100 decomposing bodies washed up on the banks of the Ganga in Bihar's Buxar in the past two days, more have been found in Brahmapur in the same district. The administration, however, has brushed off responsibility, saying the bodies have been found in villages that are in UP.
With several villages located along the border of the two states, a blame game has erupted.
Bihar BJP MP Janardhan Singh Sigriwal on Tuesday alleged the bodies were being dumped by ambulances driving on the Jaiprabha Setu bridge, which connects Bihar's Saran district to Uttar Pradesh's Ballia. "I have told officials to ensure last rites are properly performed," he said.
Bodies have so far been seen floating at two places in Buxar and one in Saran, below the bridge.
Locals say both states are guilty. "Bodies are thrown over by ambulance drivers from both UP and Bihar," Arvind Singh claimed.
In UP, dead bodies washed up on the banks of Ganga were sighted in Ghazipur on Tuesday. "We have got the information. Our officers are present on the spot and an investigation is underway. We are trying to find out where they came from," MP Singh, the Ghazipur District Magistrate, was quoted by news agency ANI.
Hindus revere the Ganga as the holiest of rivers but consigning bodies to it is not part of any religion's traditions, including Hinduism.
Locals believe the shortage of wood for funeral pyres might be one reason why corpses are being abandoned in this manner.
They have also said no arrangements are being made for the last rites by officials, and that the stench continues to haunt them, triggering health concerns.
Many believe the abandoned bodies can be linked to deaths that have not made it to official Covid figures in what may be a proof of an escalating Covid crisis.