Footage of Indian health officials throwing the bodies of coronavirus victims into a large pit has drawn harsh criticism and outrage over “inhuman” handling of the deceased.
The video, which showed workers clad head-to-toe in PPE gear tossing body bags into deep pits, was filmed in the district of Ballari, in Karnataka state.
It was shared on Twitter by Karnataka congressman DK Shivakumar, who said: “It’s disturbing to see bodies of Covid patients who have died being dumped inhumanly into a pit in Ballari.
“Is this civility? This is a reflection of how the government has handled this corona crisis. I urge the government to take immediate action and ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
State officials confirmed the footage was genuine and issued an apology to the families. They said the bodies were of eight people who died from coronavirus several days earlier.
Senior district official SS Nakula said in a statement to BBC Hindi: “We have issued a letter of unconditional apology to the families of the dead. We are very hurt by this and we are very sorry. We condemn the way corpses have been treated. They should have been treated more humanely.
“They followed all the protocols. Where they have gone wrong is not the part of the protocol but the mentality that a dead body should be handled with dignity.”
The team seen in the video was disbanded and an inquiry has been ordered, reported local news.
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa said he was shocked at the incident. In a series of tweets, he said: “The behaviour of the health workers with the dead bodies of the Covid-19 victims is inhuman and painful.
“I appeal to the health workers to be kind to the Covid victims and perform the last rites of the deceased with honour. There is no religion bigger than humanity.”
It's disturbing to see bodies of COVID patients who have died being dumped inhumanly into a pit in Ballari.
Is this civility? This is a reflection of how the govt has handled this Corona crisis.
I urge the govt to take immediate action and ensure that this doesn't happen again. pic.twitter.com/lsbv5ZUNCR— DK Shivakumar (@DKShivakumar)June 30, 2020
India has the fourth-highest number of Covid-19 infections in the world, with nearly 600,000 positive cases and around 17,400 deaths.
The government has come under fire for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, the country insisted there was no community transmission of the virus in the country and government data reportedly showed only about 0.4 per cent of the population have been tested.