The Nellore district administration in Andhra Pradesh today ordered an inquiry into the alleged act of local municipal staff using an earthmover to bury three bodies of COVID victims. A video shot at night by a passer-by from a highway near River Penna showed some people wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) taking out three bodies from an ambulance one by one and dumping them in the front portion. The video went viral, drawing the attention of the state authority.
Another video showed the earthmover carry the bodies to a grave a few metres away and dump all of them into a previously dug pit.
With the videos making their way to local television channels, the chief minister’s office ordered the Nellore district administration to conduct an inquiry. “A detailed probe has been ordered into the burial of the dead bodies of COVID-19 patients near River Penna. Nellore revenue divisional officer Hussian Saheb has been appointed as the special officer. He will conduct the enquiry,” an official statement from the CMO said.
Hussain Saheb, who is also a sub-divisional magistrate, said he would submit a report to the district collector after conducting an inquiry into the incident.
The opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) castigated the Nellore municipal authorities for their “inhuman treatment” of the bodies of COVID patients. “Pained to see bodies of Covid-19 patients in Nellore being disrespectfully thrown into a single pit using an earthmover. This is happening time & again. @ysjagan Govt must offer an apology to the grieving families who wished for a respectful departure for their loved ones,” TDP president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu tweeted.
This is the third such incident in Andhra Pradesh in the recent past. On 6 July, municipal authorities in Tirupati also used an earthmover to lift the body of a Covid-19 victim from an ambulance and dump it into a grave.
Tirupati municipal commissioner PS Girisha admitted that the municipal staff should not have done that. But he said they had no option but to use the excavator to lift the body which was weighing about 175 kg — only after taking the consent of the family members.
On 26 June, the municipal staff in the Palasa town in District Srikakulam used an earthmover to carry the body of a COVID victim too. The victim’s relatives had refused to perform last rites. Following instructions from chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, the district authorities suspended six municipal employees for using an earthmover to carry the body.