Skeletal remains found near Bihar hospital, probe ordered
One or two of the dead bodies were found charred and many skeletons were found strewn on the ground or stuffed into sacks in the forest area.
Human skeletal remains were found strewn near a garbage dump and in the bushes close to the post-mortem section of the Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital (SKMCH) on Saturday, officials said.
The hospital has been in the news in connection with the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) outbreak in Bihar in which at least 140 children have died since early June. The epicentre of the outbreak is Muzaffarpur.
“The post-mortem section comes under the administrative control of the principal of the medical college attached to the hospital. I have asked him to set up a committee to look into the matter and take remedial measures,” Sunil Kumar Shahi, superintendent of SKMCH said.
The Bihar health department and Muzaffarpur district magistrate Alok Ranjan Ghosh have given orders for detailed investigations. Hospital officials said the skeletons had nothing to do with the recent AES deaths.
“Unclaimed bodies after post-mortem are cremated in due course. These skeletal remains are found at the spot where cremations take place. But I agree this should be done in a more humane fashion,” Shahi said.
A team from SKMCH, accompanied by policemen, visited the spot on Saturday. Sona Prasad Singh, station house officer of Ahiyapur police station, said: “The investigation suggests that unclaimed bodies were burnt there. Further probe is on.”
The officials said as per procedure, when a hospital receives a body, it has to immediately contact the nearest police station and file a report. The body has to be kept in the autopsy room for 72 hours after the report is filed. “If no family member arrives for identification of the body within 72 hours, it is the duty of the post-mortem department to bury or burn the body following the stipulated procedure,” Shahi said.
Sub-divisional magistrate (East) Kundan Kumar and superintendent of police (City) Neeraj Kumar who reached the spot declined to comment. Locals said improper disposal of bodies has been a long-standing problem in the area and stray dogs could often be seen feeding on half-burnt corpses.
Meanwhile, the number of cases reached 23 with only one death being reported on Saturday. No admission of AES cases was reported at SKMCH on Saturday, said head of department of paediatrics, SKMCH, Dr Gopal Shankar Sahni.