The Bihar government on Tuesday, 11 May, said that a total of 71 bodies had been fished out of the Ganga river in Bihar’s Buxar, where they had been found floating in a decomposed state.
The authorities on Monday had said that 45 bodies had been seen floating and claimed they had been thrown into the river upstream in Uttar Pradesh.
State Water Resources Minister Sanjay Kumar, a key aide of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, on Tuesday took to Twitter to state that the government was aware of the matter and reiterated that the mortal remains had floated into Bihar from UP.
“Upon post-mortem, our doctors have confirmed that these are 4-5 days' old bodies,” he added.
Jha added that the last rites of the bodies had been performed as per protocols and said that the UP administration had been asked to remain vigilant about such incidents.
‘Bodies Thrown in UP Districts’
Ashok Kumar, Block Development Officer of Chausa in the district, on Monday had said that they had spotted at least 45 dead bodies at Mahadev Ghat and dismissed claims of the bodies numbering 100.
"Chausa is located on the Bihar-Uttar Pradesh border. These bodies were definitely thrown in the districts of Uttar Pradesh. We have deployed guards at Mahadev Ghat and cremations of the bodies are underway," Kumar said, according to IANS.
Buxar SDO KK Upadhyay had told NDTV that they believed the bodies were not from Buxar because there was no tradition of disposing of bodies in the river.
“We are interacting with our counterparts in Varanasi and Allahabad (Prayagraj) to investigate the incident and intensify vigil in the areas along the banks of the Ganga,” he said.
According to IANS, Upadhyay said that during their preliminary investigation, it appeared that the dead bodies were five to six days old and had decomposed.
Kumar had said that officials could not confirm whether the deceased were indeed COVID-19 positive since the bodies had started decomposing.
“But we are taking all precautions while ensuring that these are disposed of in a decent manner,” he had said, according to PTI.
However, gory and disturbing visuals of the scene showed dogs wading in and out of the waters, giving rise to COVID-related fears.
Centre Weighs In
Meanwhile, several bodies were also found floating in Ganga in UP's Ghazipur on Tuesday.
"Premilinary investigation reveals that the dead bodies could be 18 to 20 days old. There were 23 dead bodies recovered from the river and some of the dead bodies were partially cremated and then thrown into the river," AK Pandey, SHO of Gahmar police station in Ghazipur was quoted as saying.
The Centre on Tuesday asked the states along the Ganga river to ensure strict vigilance and check future incidences of people dumping bodies in the river and its tributaries.
Unidentified bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims should be disposed following safety protocols, the National Mission for Clean Ganga told District Ganga Committees.
(With inputs from PTI, NDTV and IANS.)