Chausa (Bihar): The sight of corpses floating down the Ganga river is not unfamiliar to the residents of Chausa in Buxar district of Bihar, which borders Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh. There is a U-bend in the river at Mahadev Ghat, and a few bodies do wash up sometimes, owing to the current and the west-east direction of the wind.
But the horror was of an unimaginable scale this time — according to the Buxar district administration, 71 corpses that washed up at Mahadev Ghat were buried after drawing samples to check for DNA.
Sitaram Chaudhry, a fisherman from the neighbouring Misrolia village, said the scenes shook the people of the entire area to the core.
“We have seen bodies every year. Some float, and a fraction get washed ashore, but this time, it looked like all hell had broken loose,” Chaudhry said.
Pandit Deen Dayal Pandey, who performs last rites at Mahadev Ghat, said he saw “more than 50” dead bodies wash up. “The scenes were enormously disturbing. Most of those corpses were decomposing, which made the entire ghat impossible to approach due to the stench,” he said, adding he was sure that the bodies were of Covid-19 patients, because he has never seen as many corpses at one go.
Pandey explained that in the Sanatan Dharma, the most common branch of Hinduism, there is a provision to immerse the dead. “We have to cremate the deceased, but if we don’t have wood, we can immerse the body. The third option is to bury the dead,” he said.
In 1988, the Supreme Court had made it illegal to immerse corpses in the Ganga, but the practice continues in many parts of the states where the river flows.
‘Bodies from UP’
Police officers ThePrint spoke to said none of the 71 corpses now buried in Chausa have been identified yet.
Buxar District Magistrate Aman Samir has denied that the corpses are from his jurisdiction, claiming they floated downstream from UP’s Ghazipur. However, Samir’s counterpart in the UP district has denied this claim.
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s close aide and state Water Resources Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha also said the bodies came from UP.
“The Bihar government is seized of the matter of unfortunate case of floating mortal remains in river Ganga, near Chausa village in Buxar district. The bodies have floated into Bihar from UP. Upon postmortem, our doctors have confirmed that these are 4-5 days’ old bodies,” he tweeted Tuesday.
1/3 The Bihar Government is seized of the matter of unfortunate case of floating mortal remains in river Ganga, near Chausa village in Buxar district. The bodies have floated into Bihar from UP. Upon postmortem, our doctors have confirmed that these are 4-5 days' old bodies.
— Sanjay Kumar Jha (@SanjayJhaBihar) May 11, 2021
“The last rites of 71 bodies performed as per Covid protocol. A net has been placed on the river at Ranighat, bordering UP and Bihar. We’ve advised the UP administration to be vigilant; our district admin is keeping vigil too. Advise all to give all respect to those dead, and Maa Ganges (sic),” he added.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)