The district administration employed excavators and labourers to remove the markings at the burial sites in at least two spots.
The district administration in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj has removed the shrouds and bamboo sticks used to mark the burial sites of suspected Covid-19 patients in at least two ghats (river embankments) along the Ganga, two newspapers reported on Tuesday.
On Sunday night, excavators and labourers were employed at the Shringverpur ghat in Prayagraj to remove the shrouds from a stretch of nearly one kilometre, Dainik Bhaskar reported. A similar exercise was carried out on Monday morning at the Phaphamau ghat, according to Hindustan.
कफन चोर ?
प्रयागराज में गंगा किनारे क़ब्रों पर से पीली चादरें हटाई जा रही हैं,ताकि फ़ोटो खींचने पर वे पहचानी न जाएं।उन्नाव के बक्सर में भी पुलिस क़ब्रों से पीली चादरें उठा ले गयी थी। pic.twitter.com/8tcGQsSA04
— Kamal khan (@kamalkhan_NDTV) May 25, 2021
The district authority’s directive was viewed as a damage control measure after multiple bodies, suspected to be of Covid-19 patients, were found buried along the banks of the Ganga river in Uttar Pradesh. Some of the bodies were also found floating in the river.
The district administration also claimed that it had deployed a team to cover the bodies after several bodies were exposed due to the rain, according to India Today.
The civic body’s team also reportedly covered bodies with sand at cremation sites in Prayagraj. The authorities have also assigned a separate burial ground and adequate stock of timber was made at cremation sites to curb burials along the Ganga.
A priest at the Shringverpur ghat told the Dainik Bhaskar that two excavators and nearly two dozen labourers removed the cloth covers and bamboo sticks on Sunday night. They were taken away in a trolley and later burned, the priest added.
District officials were at the spot till Monday morning but refused to admit that the cloth covers were taken off the shallow graves. Prayagraj Superintendent of Police Dhawal Jaiswal said they will investigate how the markings on the burial sites were removed, the newspaper reported.
Bodies buried in the Ganga river bed in Prayagraj, as far as the eyes can see. pic.twitter.com/EpWSO0v2pH
— Ankur Bhardwaj (@Bhayankur) May 18, 2021
At the Phaphamau ghat in Prayagraj, over 100 sanitation workers were employed on Monday morning to remove the shrouds on the bodies, the Hindustan reported. Niraj Singh, the zonal officer of the local civic body, and other officials were present when the markings were being removed.
On May 14, the Dainik Bhaskar had published a ground report that over 2,000 bodies were buried along the Ganga in a 1,140 km stretch, which covers 27 districts before the river enters Bihar.
The newspaper had found that more than 900 corpses alone were buried in the sand in at least two locations of the Unnao district – near the Shuklagunj ghat and the Buxar ghat. In Kanpur, 400 corpses were found near the Sereshwar ghat. The Dainik Bhaskar reported that the police buried the bodies after being informed about them.
The Prayagraj Police has denied reports of bodies being buried along the river bank. On May 18, the same day when Dainik Bhaskar had reported about the bodies being buried, the inspector general of police had claimed that no such incident took place.
Chief Minister Adityanath, meanwhile, instructed that patrolling along the river banks of the state should continue to ensure that the bodies were not set adrift in the river, according to India Today.
No Covid bodies buried on banks, our teams are on 24X7 vigil in UP's Prayagraj,
@timesofindia @ADGZonPrayagraj @prayagraj_pol @kaushambipolice @fatehpurpolice @pratapgarhpol pic.twitter.com/ZCE3NkfoKO
— IG Range Prayagraj (@igrangealld) May 18, 2021
On May 15, the National Human Rights Commission has also released an advisory to the Union government and all the states and Union Territories, calling for a special law to uphold the dignity of the dead, in view of the incidents.