Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said the state government may consider starting a service to send bodies back from hospitals.
Sarma’s reaction came after the state government received all-round flak over an incident in Assam’s river island Majuli, where a youth had to tie his relative’s body to a bicycle to carry it back home after the person died at a government hospital.
According to the youth, he had to carry the body from the hospital on his bicycle as the road to his village is in a bad shape and has several bamboo bridges on the way, across which a vehicle or an ambulance cannot pass.
Replying to the criticism, the health minister said it was not the responsibility of the health department after a person was dead.
“The health department is responsible for living humans. After death, it is the responsibility of the social welfare department or some NGO. We cannot use ambulance for carrying bodies, otherwise there will be an ethical question,” said Sarma.
“Currently, ambulance services like 108 and 104 are provided to take patients to hospital. We do not have such a service for bodies. We have to see and work out a mechanism so that bodies can be taken back from hospital,” he said.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has sent the state’s director of health services to Majuli after local television channels aired the news of the dead body being carried on a bicycle in the island.
Majuli, the largest river island in the world, is a district and also a legislative assembly constituency represented by the chief minister himself.