Odisha tribal woman begs outside hospital to hire hearse for husband’s body

Minati Munda, a labourer, sat on the premises of sub-divisional hospital in Pattamundai town since Tuesday afternoon after her request for a hearse was turned down by hospital authorities.

A tribal woman in Odisha was begging for money outside a hospital in coastal Kendrapara district as she was denied a free hearse to take her husband’s body home to her native village in Keonjhar district.

Minati Munda, a labourer, sat on the premises of sub-divisional hospital in Pattamundai town since Tuesday afternoon after her request for a hearse was turned down by hospital authorities.

Munda and her husband Dakrai had migrated out of Keonjhar district a few months ago and were working as daily labourers in Pattamundai town, leaving their kids in their native village of Saharpada. On Monday, Dakrai fell ill and was admitted to the Pattamundai hospital, where he died later.

When Minati wanted to take her husband’s body back to Keonjhar, the hospital authorities allegedly demanded Rs 300 as charges for hiring the hearse, which is usually free under the state government’s Mahaprayan scheme.

However, Kendrapara chief district medical officer Dr BC Sahu pointed out that hearse vans cannot be taken to a different district under the Mahaprayan scheme. “These vehicles are meant to move within the district boundary,” he said.

“As she did not have any money, she sat begging for money for taking her husband’s body,” said Pradosh Biswal, a local youth of DJ Seva Samiti.

Minati finally hired a hearse van for Rs 300 and cremated her husband in Pattamudai town itself, after the youths convinced her that it would be very costly to hire hearse vans to take them till their village in Keonjhar district.

Several cases of poor and tribal people being denied hearse have been reported in the last several months despite the Naveen Patnaik government’s free Mahaprayan scheme.

In August, a tribal couple of Nabarangpur district had to carry the body of one of their twin daughters in an autorickshaw after they waited for five hours to get a Mahaprayan vehicle.

Before the Mahaprayan scheme came into being, a tribal man, named Dana Manjhi, from Odisha’s Kalahandi district shot to national headlines when he carried his wife’s body on his shoulders as the hospital authorities did not provide a mortuary van or an ambulance.

Source: Hindustan Times

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