Lucknow: Nearly 18 months after his demise, the body of a man was found at his family home in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur with his parents claiming they “felt” he was in a coma and that they sprinkled “gangaajal’ (holy water) on his corpse every day, believing it would nurse him back to health.
While a police probe has been initiated to ascertain how the “mummified body” did not emit any odour that would have alerted neighbours, officials with the health department said the possibility that family members might have used chemicals to preserve the corpse — found lying on a bed at their home in Kanpur’s Rawatpur — cannot be ruled out.
Vimlesh Dixit (35), an assistant accounts officer with the Income Tax (IT) Department in Ahmedabad, was one of three sons of Ram Avatar and Ram Dulari, residents of Krishnapuri in Kanpur’s Rawatpur. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Dixit, who returned to Kanpur during the second wave of Covid-19 infections owing to health reasons, was admitted to Moti Hospital on 19 April 2021 for “acute respiratory syndrome and died on 22 April at 4 am due to sudden cardio respiratory syndrome [cardiac arrest]”, Kanpur Nagar chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Alok Ranjan told reporters Friday.
Ranjan added that prior to his demise, Dixit’s family took him to several hospitals in Lucknow and Kanpur for treatment and that a death certificate was issued to the family in October last year.
Even at the time of his death, his parents were unwilling to accept that he was no more, a police source told ThePrint, adding that the family was allegedly preparing to cremate him when the mother claimed to have noticed some movement in his body and they decided against it.
The source added that while Dixit’s wife had accepted his death, his parents were unwilling to do so and continued to tend to the body. “The parents would keep the dead body in an AC room. Every day, they would change his clothes and clean it. For the past six months, Vimlesh’s wife had been insisting to the family that he was no more but under pressure from the parents, her efforts couldn’t succeed,” said the source.
‘Use of chemicals cannot be ruled out’
According to officials with the health department, Dixit’s wife allegedly wrote to his bosses in Ahmedabad, informing them that he was in a “coma”.
But Dixit’s bosses started getting suspicious when the family failed to produce any valid medical certificate to prove that he was “in a coma” despite repeated requests. This is when they wrote to their counterparts in Kanpur, asking them to conduct an inquiry.
Dr Ranjan confirmed that he received a letter from the Kanpur Income Tax Department in this regard and a team was formed under the leadership of Deputy CMO O.P. Gautam to look into the matter. Members of this team visited the family home Friday and found Dixit’s corpse in a “mummified state”, Ranjan told ThePrint.
Officials, as they tried to take possession of the corpse, faced resistance from Dixit’s parents who were unwilling to accept that he was no more, said sources in the health department, adding that the body was retrieved only after an ECG procedure.
While family members claimed they had been sprinkling “gangaajal” (holy water) on it, Dr Ranjan said he “cannot rule out the possibility” that chemicals were also used to preserve Dixit’s corpse.
Superstition or attachment?
Joint Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) Anand Prakash Tiwari told ThePrint: “Family members had been keeping the dead body on a bed, thinking that he was alive. They are still not ready to accept that he is no more. Even at the time of his death, they claimed that it was the hospital’s fault. The family is very superstitious.”
Tiwari added that when a team from the health department reached the family home Friday, they found a “cadaveric — mummified dead body at the spot”.
“There is another view, that they were possibly misleading Vimlesh’s department in order to continue to avail his salary but prima facie, that does not seem to be the case. It seems that the family could not accept his death and continued to keep his body out of sheer attachment. We could not check the condition of the mental health of the family on Friday but that too will be looked into,” he said.
A special team has been formed under the supervision of the DCP (west) Vijay Dhull to probe the matter, including whether family members violated the deceased’s legal rights by refusing to cremate his corpse for almost a year-and-a-half.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)