A video purportedly showing health workers inappropriately burying some bodies of COVID-19 victims in a large pit allegedly in Ballari district in Karnataka has trigger an outrage on social media following which some health workers were suspeded.
A top official in the district, from where state Health Minister B Sriramulu hails, said they were inquiring into the matter.
In the video, the workers wearing personal protection equipment are seen bringing bodies in black sheets from a vehicle parked nearby and dropping one after the another into the large pit dug up with the help of an earthmover.
Sriramulu said the staff involved in the funeral procedures have been suspended. "I appeal to all staff of the health department to follow the rules while conducting funerals of COVID-19 victims," he said.
A man who posted the video first on YouTube claimed it happened in Ballari. It went viral on social media drawing widespread condemnation over the manner in which the dead were handled and people demanded stringent action. "In all, eight bodies were dumped in this fashion in a single pit," a witness said.
Ballari Deputy Commissioner of SS Nakul said he has noticed the video on social media and that an inquiry has been ordered.
"The video shows that protocols/SOP to be followed for burial (body bags, lining, etc.) have been strictly followed. However, the District Administration is deeply upset and sorrowful at the manner in which the remains of the deceased were handled," news agency ANI quoted him as saying.
"The behaviour of staff during the funeral of COVID-19 infected people in Ballari district is very inhuman and very painful. I request the staff, let's realise that there is no greater religion than humanity," said a statement from the Chief Minister's Office.
The district reported 12 COVID-19 deaths on Monday. Nakul said five more people succumbed to the coronavirus on Tuesday, taking the total fatalities in the district to 29 so far.
In a similar incident, the body of a 44-year old COVID-19 victim was thrown into a pit in Puducherry earlier this month, triggering public outrage and a few health workers were suspended.
(With inputs from agencies)