Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Health India

Anger simmers as bodies pile up outside crematoria in Gujarat

Mismanagement of oxygen and life-saving drugs adds to people’s woes as the Rupani administration, and by extension the Modi regime come under fire for apathy and ineptitude

Deborah Grey 27 Apr 2021

GujaratImage: PTI
 

Shocking news reports are emerging from Gujarat each day. While some allege that number of Covid-19 casualties are being grossly under-reported, others show how the state administration has failed to manage the crisis. And then there are pictures of rows of bodies going up in flames in mass cremations, even as other pile up waiting for their turn, dark smoke bellowing somewhere, even as furnaces melt from successive cremations elsewhere in the state.

Understandably, people are livid and demanding answers. Here are a few examples of ground realities and people’s rage as reported by national and local media:

On April 13, multiple publications including The Times of India, The Telegraph, Hindustan Times and a few others carried a report by the Press Trust of India (PTI) about how frames of furnaces at two Surat crematoria had begun to melt under pressure as bodies were being cremated round the clock. Crematorium administrators said where before Covid, they would get anywhere between 20-30 bodies a day, now they were cremating 90-100 each day, with many more waiting outside. BBC’s Gujarati and Hindi news services also carried a video story that may be viewed here, though viewer discretion is advised.

Within days of this, reports started emerging of a gross under-reportage of Covid deaths, an allegation dismissed by the Gujarat government. All major publications such a NDTV, TOI, The Wire and Scroll reported on this, but Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said deaths were being reported as per guidelines set by the Indian Council of Medical Research. Rupani admitted to TOI that deaths of patients with comorbidities were being excluded from the Covid toll. “The method of recording Covid deaths has been stipulated by ICMR, all states, including Gujarat are following it. Other states are also not recording deaths of comorbid patients as Covid fatalities,” insisted Rupani.

But this is incorrect. According the ICMR’s Guidance for appropriate recording of COVID-19 related deaths in India, the cause of death (COD) is defined as “all those diseases, morbid conditions or abnormalities, injuries which either resulted in or contributed to death and the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced any such injuries.”

The COD certificate also has two separate sections for “Immediate Cause” and “Antecedent Cause”. ICMR’s guidelines may be viewed here:

So, does this mean that Rupani was deliberately gaslighting the media and citizens? Or was he genuinely unaware of procedure, in which case he was negligent, ignorant and therefore unprofessional in discharge of his sworn duties.

Meanwhile, it isn’t as if the problem of under-reportage of deaths and overflowing crematoria is new. Local Gujarati media as well as English-language national media had reported this as early as November 2020. For example, according to official figures 19 people died of Covid on November 27, 2020. But local journalists reported that they had met people at crematoria where there were long lines of people waiting to cremate their loved ones. A TOI report quoted a man who said he was 36th in line while waiting to cremate his sister who had died of Covid at a crematorium behind the city’s VS Hospital. This was after he discovered that there was a long line at the Vadaj crematorium. The other 35 bodies belonged to both Covid patients and others who had died of non-Covid related causes.

Gujarati newspaper Sandesh also highlighted the under-reportage in Covid deaths. The publication’s reporters staked out outside The Ahmedabad Civil Hospital and counted every single body brought out of the morgue between midnight and 5 P.M on April 12. The report by Sandesh said that 63 people had died at just this one hospital – the 1,200-bed Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.

sandesh

A few days later Sandesh exposed under-reportage of deaths based on cremations in seven major cities of Gujarat.

sandesh

Meanwhile, Scroll reported that there was a beeline for burials as well. It cited data shared by Ahmedabad’s Sunni Waqf Board, the city’s Musa Suhag burial ground for Sunni Muslims has already buried 70 bodies in just the first 12 days of April. In comparison, the graveyard had buried 73 people in all of January, 59 in February and 89 in March. The publication quoted Rizwan Kadri, the head of the city’s Sunni Waqf Board which manages burial grounds as saying, “Out of the 70 burials we had at Musa Suhag Kabrastan this month, only seven are officially Covid deaths. But the fact is, many more people have died and been buried, so what does that mean?”

Social media as a tool for exposing government’s ineptitude

Over the course of the pandemic social media platforms have become the people’s means of choice for not only sharing their traumatic experiences and asking for help, but also expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the pandemic. Local journalists are also using this to share heart rending images of ground realities that are often missed by the national media. Here are a few examples of how social media is helping show exactly what is going on in Gujarat:

VTV Gujarati journalist Dixit Thakrar shared this video of a mother who was forced to sit outside with her sick son as they had not come in a 108 ambulance.

 

 

 

Tribal leader Chhotu Vasava shared images of people unable to find hospitals being forced to combat the disease on the street side, under trees!

 

 

Senior journalist and scholar Deepal Trivedi shared this video of bodies being cremated in open grounds as crematoria were already overwhelmed by the deluge of bodies.

 

 

 

Related:

India's Covid-19 surge through the global lens

900 more Covid beds being established says Gujarat gov’t to HC

Guj HC directs info on Covid testing, ambulance availability be filed; gov’t asserts situation under control

Anger simmers as bodies pile up outside crematoria in Gujarat

Mismanagement of oxygen and life-saving drugs adds to people’s woes as the Rupani administration, and by extension the Modi regime come under fire for apathy and ineptitude

GujaratImage: PTI
 

Shocking news reports are emerging from Gujarat each day. While some allege that number of Covid-19 casualties are being grossly under-reported, others show how the state administration has failed to manage the crisis. And then there are pictures of rows of bodies going up in flames in mass cremations, even as other pile up waiting for their turn, dark smoke bellowing somewhere, even as furnaces melt from successive cremations elsewhere in the state.

Understandably, people are livid and demanding answers. Here are a few examples of ground realities and people’s rage as reported by national and local media:

On April 13, multiple publications including The Times of India, The Telegraph, Hindustan Times and a few others carried a report by the Press Trust of India (PTI) about how frames of furnaces at two Surat crematoria had begun to melt under pressure as bodies were being cremated round the clock. Crematorium administrators said where before Covid, they would get anywhere between 20-30 bodies a day, now they were cremating 90-100 each day, with many more waiting outside. BBC’s Gujarati and Hindi news services also carried a video story that may be viewed here, though viewer discretion is advised.

Within days of this, reports started emerging of a gross under-reportage of Covid deaths, an allegation dismissed by the Gujarat government. All major publications such a NDTV, TOI, The Wire and Scroll reported on this, but Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said deaths were being reported as per guidelines set by the Indian Council of Medical Research. Rupani admitted to TOI that deaths of patients with comorbidities were being excluded from the Covid toll. “The method of recording Covid deaths has been stipulated by ICMR, all states, including Gujarat are following it. Other states are also not recording deaths of comorbid patients as Covid fatalities,” insisted Rupani.

But this is incorrect. According the ICMR’s Guidance for appropriate recording of COVID-19 related deaths in India, the cause of death (COD) is defined as “all those diseases, morbid conditions or abnormalities, injuries which either resulted in or contributed to death and the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced any such injuries.”

The COD certificate also has two separate sections for “Immediate Cause” and “Antecedent Cause”. ICMR’s guidelines may be viewed here:

So, does this mean that Rupani was deliberately gaslighting the media and citizens? Or was he genuinely unaware of procedure, in which case he was negligent, ignorant and therefore unprofessional in discharge of his sworn duties.

Meanwhile, it isn’t as if the problem of under-reportage of deaths and overflowing crematoria is new. Local Gujarati media as well as English-language national media had reported this as early as November 2020. For example, according to official figures 19 people died of Covid on November 27, 2020. But local journalists reported that they had met people at crematoria where there were long lines of people waiting to cremate their loved ones. A TOI report quoted a man who said he was 36th in line while waiting to cremate his sister who had died of Covid at a crematorium behind the city’s VS Hospital. This was after he discovered that there was a long line at the Vadaj crematorium. The other 35 bodies belonged to both Covid patients and others who had died of non-Covid related causes.

Gujarati newspaper Sandesh also highlighted the under-reportage in Covid deaths. The publication’s reporters staked out outside The Ahmedabad Civil Hospital and counted every single body brought out of the morgue between midnight and 5 P.M on April 12. The report by Sandesh said that 63 people had died at just this one hospital – the 1,200-bed Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.

sandesh

A few days later Sandesh exposed under-reportage of deaths based on cremations in seven major cities of Gujarat.

sandesh

Meanwhile, Scroll reported that there was a beeline for burials as well. It cited data shared by Ahmedabad’s Sunni Waqf Board, the city’s Musa Suhag burial ground for Sunni Muslims has already buried 70 bodies in just the first 12 days of April. In comparison, the graveyard had buried 73 people in all of January, 59 in February and 89 in March. The publication quoted Rizwan Kadri, the head of the city’s Sunni Waqf Board which manages burial grounds as saying, “Out of the 70 burials we had at Musa Suhag Kabrastan this month, only seven are officially Covid deaths. But the fact is, many more people have died and been buried, so what does that mean?”

Social media as a tool for exposing government’s ineptitude

Over the course of the pandemic social media platforms have become the people’s means of choice for not only sharing their traumatic experiences and asking for help, but also expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the pandemic. Local journalists are also using this to share heart rending images of ground realities that are often missed by the national media. Here are a few examples of how social media is helping show exactly what is going on in Gujarat:

VTV Gujarati journalist Dixit Thakrar shared this video of a mother who was forced to sit outside with her sick son as they had not come in a 108 ambulance.

 

 

 

Tribal leader Chhotu Vasava shared images of people unable to find hospitals being forced to combat the disease on the street side, under trees!

 

 

Senior journalist and scholar Deepal Trivedi shared this video of bodies being cremated in open grounds as crematoria were already overwhelmed by the deluge of bodies.

 

 

 

Related:

India's Covid-19 surge through the global lens

900 more Covid beds being established says Gujarat gov’t to HC

Guj HC directs info on Covid testing, ambulance availability be filed; gov’t asserts situation under control

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

IN FACT

Analysis

2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura

Archives