Bhubaneswar: A tribal man, along with his 12-year-old daughter, on Wednesday walked around 10 km carrying his wife's body on his shoulder after he failed to get a vehicle to transport it from a government hospital in the backward district of Kalahandi, where she died.
The incident took place in the morning when the locals found Dana Majhi carrying his wife Amang Dei's body. The 42-year-old woman died of tuberculosis on Wednesday night at the district headquarters hospital at Bhawanipatna. Majhi was quoted by the BBC saying that his village was 60km (37 miles) away and he couldn't afford to hire a vehicle.
The hospital staff took no responsibility for the event, when they said that Dei had died on Tuesday night and that Majhi had taken away the body without informing the hospital. However Majhi denied the statement and alleged that he began walking with the body after the hospital staff pushed him to remove it.
In Odisha, for those in such a situation, the Naveen Patnaik government launched the 'Mahaparayana' scheme in February, offering free transportation of bodies from government hospitals to the residences of the deceased.
Majhi, however, said despite his all-out efforts, he could not get any help from the hospital authorities. He wrapped his wife's body in cloth and started walking to his village Melghara in Rampur block.
Majhi's daughter accompanied him till some local reporters spotted the duo. They called up the district collector and arranged for an ambulance for the remaining 50 km of the journey.
"I told the hospital authorities that I am a poor man and cannot afford a vehicle. Despite repeated requests, they said they cannot offer any help," Majhi told a local television channel.
Kalahandi District Collector Brunda D said, "As we got to know of the incident, we spoke to the CDMO and arranged for an ambulance.
"I have issued instructions to the Tehsildar to provide assistance under the Harishchandra Yojana (Assistance to the poor and destitute to perform last rites). I have also asked the BDO to provide assistance from Red Cross and CMRF," she said.
The Indian Express quoted her saying, “We would have surely sent the body in a vehicle,” adding that she has sanctioned for Rs 2,000 for Majhi from the Odisha’s funeral assistance scheme and another Rs 10,000 from the District Red Cross Fund.
As per the 'Mahaparayana' scheme, dead body carriers are supposed to be deployed at 37 government hospitals and a total of 40 vehicles were assigned for the job.
According to a report by The Indian Express, this is not the first time when people have to resort to such methods for transporting bodies. In May, two youths had rode with the body of their relative from Jharigan Community Health Centre to Bharuamunda village which is almost 30 kms away. They too didn't have enough money to arrange a vehicle.