Credit: Representational image

Guwahati: COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent losses and human deaths have now set a new gut-wrenching benchmark in Assam. Namita Sharma, widow of a COVID-19 victim in the state, has been reportedly unable to see her husband’s dead body for four days now.

Namita’s husband, Siba Ram Sharma, was pronounced dead on July 1 due to COVID-19.

“We went to the DC office after getting the news of death around 2 am on that day as I was made aware by my family members that some amount of precaution is necessary for the cremation of COVID-19 victims,” Namita told EastMojo. According to her, the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) did not want to take the dead body unless she got a signed form from the DC’s office.

Siba Ram Sharma (second)

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“We were there for two hours but to no avail and so came back to GMCH then to the ‘so-called’ morgue where my husband’s body was deposited,” she said.

Meanwhile, she was allegedly charged Rs 13,000 by a private ambulance to transport her husband’s dead body from Ayursundra to GMCH.

She was again allegedly charged Rs 2,000 to transport herself from GMCH in Bhangagharh to DC Court and then was also charged Rs 400 just to transfer her husband’s body from the car to the morgue.

Meanwhile, the woman received a call from the GMCH authority around 7.30 pm on Friday. However, the family is confused. “Is this the way a COVID-19 deceased body is released?” she asked. As of now, no further contact was made by the administration to her regarding the entire debacle.

“We even had to call the medical specialists to our home to get our swab tests done,” Namita added, as no one from the district authority or the medical team came forward by themselves. According to her, there are also no ‘quarantined zone’ status given to their residence.

Confused and broken, Namita is just asking for some transparency regarding her husband’s dead body.

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Team EastMojo reached out to a senior official at GMCH who, under condition of anonymity, said: “Whenever a COVID-19 patient dies, the body is shifted to the morgue and the district administration office is informed. The district administration then makes the necessary arrangements regarding the cremation of the deceased and the process is carried out in the presence of DC and health officials.”

EastMojo then reached out to Kamrup (Metro) DC Biswajit Pegu who clarified that the family can take the body for cremation following certain protocols from the GMCH, a COVID-19 hospital, after giving a letter of intimation to the DC’s office.

“It’s only the unclaimed bodies that we do the process of cremation totally on our own. But if the deceased has a family member, he or she can take the body themselves following the said protocol which also includes the non-removal of the body bag,” he added.

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