Odisha govt orders inquiry, says stringent action will be taken in tribal man’s wife corpse case


Admitting lapses by hospital and security staff that led to a tribal man in Kalahandi to walk 10 km with his wife’s corpse on his shoulder, the Odisha government said on Friday stringent action would be taken against the guilty. “It (the incident) is very distressing.

We have ordered an inquiry and stringent action will be taken against those who are responsible,” chief minister Naveen Patnaik said in Bengaluru where he is attending Odisha Investors Meet, 2016.

Photo: Indian Express

District Collector of Kalahandi Brundha D told reporters at Bhawanipatna that the probe report showed there were “lapses and negligence” on the part of the staff of district headquarter hospital, where the woman was undergoing treatment, and the security agency.

Action would be taken against those found responsible for the incident after fixing responsibility, she said, adding steps would also be taken to improve facilities at the hospital.

The collector, who had ordered an inquiry into the 24 August incident, also said Dana Majhi had left the hospital with his wife’s body in the wee hours of 24 August without informing anyone at the hospital. The hospital, she said, has a hearse but nobody informed the personnel concerned about the death of the woman or the need to carry the body to his village. The district administration had called the man and recorded his statement, the collector said.

Majhi, however, told reporters that he approached the hospital staff but they paid no heed. “I did not want to keep the body of my wife at the hospital for long and left the place for cremation as per tribal rituals at our village,” he said.

Asked how Majhi was called to Bhawanipatna without being allowed to properly perform a special tribal ritual held on the third day of death, sub-collector Sukanta Tripathy said it was essential to record Majhi’s statement for the inquiry. “Moreover, we also wanted to give the media an opportunity to speak to him and get his version,” he said.

The incident triggered nation-wide outcry after Majhi, accompanied by his 12-year-old daughter, was seen walking with his wife’s body on his shoulder on being allegedly denied a hearse by the hospital. An ambulance was arranged only after he had covered 10 km to take the body to his home at Melghara village, about 60 km from Bhawanipatna.

Taking suo motu cognisance of the incident, National Human Rights Commission issued notice to the state government seeking a report, while Odisha Human Rights Commission sent notice to the district collector and chief district medical officer of Kalahandi asking them to submit a report on the episode.