96 bodies floated in the Ganga: Panic spreads across Bihar, UP
New Delhi, May 12: Many of them decomposed and bloated, it was a horrific sight with 96 unidentified bodies found floating in the Ganga over the past couple of days. This has triggered panic among the locals of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh that the bodies of COVID-19 victims were being dumped in the river.
While 71 bodies were fished out in Bihar's Buxar, at least 25 were found in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh.
The Buxar police said that they suspected the bodies may have floated from UP. The Centre took serious note of the issue. Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat sought an investigation.
"Floating bodies in Ganga in Buxar, Bihar is unfortunate. It is surely a matter of investigation.
[Narendra] Modi government is committed to maintaining piety and continuity of mother Ganga. States [Bihar and UP] concerned must take cognisance of the matter immediately," he said on Twitter.
State Water Resources Minister Sanjay Kumar, a key aide of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, came out with a series of tweets, asserting that the bodies had flown downstream from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.
"The Bihar government is seized of the matter of unfortunate case of floating mortal remains in river Ganga... The bodies have floated into Bihar from UP," said Jha, adding, doctors have confirmed upon post-mortem that the deaths had taken place "four-five days" ago.
He said the chief minister was pained at both the tragedy as well as the "harm" to river Ganga.
"He has always been particular about the purity and uninterrupted flow of the river and has asked the administration to intensify patrolling to ensure this is not repeated.
"Last rites of 71 bodies performed as per protocols. A net has been placed in the Ganges in Ranighat, bordering UP and Bihar. We have advised the UP administration to be vigilant. Our administration is keeping vigil, too. Advise all to give respect to the dead and also to Maa Ganga," Jha added.
A large number of bloated corpses were seen floating in the river bed in Chausa block of Buxar district on Monday, triggering shock waves.
Though some news channels claimed these were of COVID-19 patients who might have been abandoned by resource- starved family members or dumped by callous officials, the local administration had strongly denied the same, asserting that none of the deceased was a local resident, and the bodies had flown downstream from adjoining UP districts.