Karnataka’s Mass Grave: Shocking Video is Proof That There’s No Dignity in a Covid-19 Death


Karnataka’s Mass Grave: Shocking Video is Proof That There’s No Dignity in a Covid-19 Death

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

As India’s number of coronavirus cases continues to shoot upward, crossing 5,85,000, the number of people to have died from Covid-19 has also correspondingly risen. The total number of fatal cases in the country has crossed 17,000. With this, the problem of safely and respectfully laying the bodies to rest has begun hampering authorities. In a video from Karnataka’s Ballari district, officials dressed in full PPE suits are seen dumping plastic-wrapped dead bodies into what appears to be a mass grave. Eight bodies are tossed into the pit during the course of the video.

Ballari’s Deputy Commissioner Collector SS Nakul announced that there would be an enquiry and action would be taken against the field team responsible for the disposal of the bodies. In a NDTV report, Nakul said, “On humanitarian grounds this is not done. Individual cremation must be done. We will conduct an inquiry and take action.”

However, once the video hit the internet and started to go viral, the criticism was inevitable. Many people shared the video calling out Karnataka’s BJP government, including the opposition party Janata Dal Secular.

Sadly, this is hardly the first time that the dead have not been afforded dignity during the pandemic in India. Even in May, shocking stories emerged of the state government of Uttar Pradesh sending dead bodies in plastic bags in trucks that were also carrying stranded migrants.

Another sad instance occurred in Andhra Pradesh, where authorities were seen using an earthmover to transport the body of a senior citizen from the hospital to the crematorium. In these cases, despite their insensitive handling of mortal remains, authorities have done the bare minimum by following the government’s guidelines of placing the bodies of coronavirus victims in a leak-proof plastic bag. In Puducherry, even that safety measure was ignored, as a video emerged of four officials throwing a body that was only wrapped in white cloth into a pit.

As the death toll in the country due to the pandemic continues to climb, awareness among the authorities on how to appropriately manage the dead is the need of the hour.