Unidentified bodies were found floating in river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district on Tuesday, a day after similar sightings in Bihar, reported NDTV. The district is only 55 km from Buxar, where bloated bodies had piled up on the banks of the river in Chausa village.
Ghazaipur District Magistrate MP Singh said that officials were at the spot where the bodies have been found and an investigation was underway, reported ANI. “We are trying to find out where they came from,” he said.
Local residents, however, have accused the administration of incompetence and complained of foul smell emanating from the decomposed bodies. “We informed the administration about the matter, but no action has been taken by them,” Akhand, a local resident, told ANI. “If the situation continues like this, there is fear of us getting infected by [the] coronavirus.”
The bodies are suspected to be of coronavirus patients, according to NDTV. Locals fear the bodies will contaminate the water and lead to the spread of the infection.
Corpses were also seen floating under a bridge near the border between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, reported NDTV.
A Bharatiya Janata Party legislator, Janardhan Singh Sigriwal, alleged that bodies of Covid victims were being dumped into the river from ambulances driving on the Jaiprabha Setu located in Bihar’s Saran near the border with Ballia in UP. Unverified visuals shared on social media corroborated Sigriwal’s allegations. “Bodies are thrown over by ambulance drivers from both UP and Bihar,” alleged a resident, Arvind Singh.
On Monday, the floating bodies in Ganga in Buxar had caused panic among the residents. While some reports said there were around 10 to 12 bodies, others said there were 40-45 bodies. Some reports placed the number even higher, at 150 bodies. Officials on Tuesday said a total of 71 corpses had washed up on the banks of Ganga.
Villagers and officials suspect these were Covid fatalities thrown into the river, leading to massive panic and worry that residents will contract the coronavirus infection.
“All night the bodies were taken out and post mortems were carried out,” read a press release by the Buxar administration. “Because they were decomposed, the cause of death has not been established yet. We have saved DNA traces to help identify the corpses.”
Officials in Bihar also suspect the bodies were from Uttar Pradesh. Chausa Block Development Officer Ashok Kumar said that many Uttar Pradesh districts were situated across the river and “the bodies may have been dumped in the Ganges for reasons not known to us”.
On Tuesday, Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat called the incident in Buxar unfortunate and said that it was a matter for investigation. “This incident is unexpected,” he tweeted, tagging Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Adityanath. “The concerned states should take immediate cognizance in this regard.”
Such incidents have happened in other places as well. On Sunday, several videos showed corpses, also believed to be of Covid-19 patients, seen floating in the Yamuna river near Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh. Some local residents had claimed that fear of cremation was leading to the bodies being immersed in rivers.