Eight bodies - believed to be of those killed by the COVID-19 virus - wrapped in plastic are being tossed into a common pit for burial in a disturbing video that emerged Tuesday from Karnataka's Ballari district.
Ballari Deputy Commissioner Collector SS Nakul, who pointed out the bodies were wrapped in plastic - in line with government guidelines on disposing of the bodies of COVID-19 victims - said the "humanitarian" aspect was under investigation.
"We are inquiring into this. If you look at the video, the body is packaged properly. We need to look at it (on) humanitarian grounds. That is why this inquiry. We need to create awareness of this (respectful handling of bodies), it is true, and action will be taken," SS Nakul said.
The DC also said: "On humanitarian grounds this is not done. Individual cremation must be done. We will conduct an inquiry and take action".
The entire field team involved in "the disrespectful handling of the bodies" had been disbanded and would be replaced by a new specially trained team. The district administration also issued an unconditional apology to the families of those who died and others hurt by the incident.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa termed the behaviour of the staff "inhuman and painful" and urged all staff to tread cautiously, and with humanity, in handling the bodies and funerals of those affected by the virus.
The opposition, the Janata Dal Secular, was quick to criticise the ruling BJP, tweeting: "BEWARE! By chance, if you or your family members die because of COVID-19, this is how the BJP Govt. in Karnataka throws away your body with many others into a single pit!"
"This is the 'well-planned COVID management' that the government talks about every day in the media!" the tweet also said.
BEWARE!— Janata Dal Secular (@JanataDal_S) June 30, 2020
By chance, if you or your family members die because of COVID-19, this is how the BJP Govt. in Karnataka throws away your body with many others into a single pit!
This is the 'well-planned COVID management' that the Govt. talks about everyday in the media! pic.twitter.com/jwIfhrcjN1
This video of the undignified and insensitive handling of the bodies comes just three days after a similarly disturbing video from Andhra Pradesh showed an earthmover being used to carry the body of a 72-year-old coronavirus victim from the hospital to the crematorium.
Earlier in June another video emerged - this time from Puducherry - showing four men in PPEs hurriedly throwing the body of a COVID-19 victim into a pit to a sign of approval from a government official. Worse still, the video also appeared to show the protocols for handling the bodies were ignored.
As early as March the centre issued guidelines for the handling of the bodies of COVID-19 victims. Among those guidelines is one that says: "Place the dead body in leak-proof plastic body bag. The exterior of the body bag can be decontaminated with a one per cent hypochlorite solution".
With the families of those killed by the infectious virus often not allowed to access the bodies of their loved ones or, in some cases even unable to perform last rites in accordance with their beliefs, images like the ones from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry, only add to their pain.
Nearly 17,000 people have been killed by the virus in India, with more than 2.15 lakh others still in hospital or COVID care facilities receiving treatment.