Bhubaneswar, Oct 5: Following two incidents of a tribal carrying his wife's body on his shoulder over 10 km and a woman's body at a hospital being carried for the last rites, strung from a pole,the Odisha government on Wednesday ordered the state's health facilities to ensure that the dead are treated with dignity and respect.
"The dead body must be treated with all dignity and respect. On no account should a dead body, whether Medico Legal Case (MLC) or non-MLC, unclaimed or not, be allowed to be carried on shoulders, or strung on a pole, or in any manner that compromises the dignity of the dead," the state's health department said in a notification issued on Wednesday.
It said the body should be carried on a stretcher/cot as far as possible and it should also be kept appropriately in a designated place till all formalities are over.
While police stations in rural areas would get Rs 1,500 for transportation of the bodies, Rs 1,000 in case of urban areas and Rs 2,000 for "unusual cases".
If a family asks for a hearse, the district collector would give aid from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund for transportation of the body from government hospital to the destination of the kin within the district.
The collector can sanction a maximum of Rs 2,000, or as per the guidelines of the state's Mahaprayan scheme.
The guidelines said if any suspicious carriage/movement by any person of a body is detected by hospital staff or security personnel, the person moving the body should be asked to produce the Death Slip, failing which such unauthorised movement of the body should be stopped.
The matter should be brought to the notice of medical officer/ staff nurse on duty in the institution. Upon getting such information, the medical officer on duty shall verify all documents and only on being satisfied as to their genuineness, shall allow the body to exit the hospital, said the notification.
Notably, tribal Dana Majhi in August this year had to walk about 10 km with his wife's body on his shoulder after he failed to get a hearse or an ambulance at Kalahandi district hospital to take the body to his village.
In the other incident in Balasore district, hospital workers broke a woman's body at hip, bundled it into a sheet and slung it from a pole to be taken for last rites.
Both incidents drew severe criticism of the Odisha government.