UP: Rising water level in Ganga River exposes more graves

Prayagraj: Incessant rains and rising water level in the Ganga river have brought back haunting images of floating bodies in the waters.

The increasing water level has exposed the bodies buried in the sands, and the authorities have been working overtime to fish out the bodies and cremate them.

Local journalists have been taking photographs that can be termed as disturbing, to put it rather mildly.

A photograph taken on Wednesday showed a body stuck on the riverbank, with one hand covered in white surgical glove jutting out of the saffron shroud. The body was pulled out by a team from the Prayagraj Municipal Corporation.

A video from another ghat showed two men pulling out another shroud-covered body from the river and placing it on the sand bank.

YouTube video

Niraj Kumar Singh, a zonal officer for the Prayagraj Municipal Corporation, told reporters that he had cremated 40 bodies in the last 24 hours.

“We are cremating all the bodies individually, following all the rituals,” he told a news channel.

Asked about a body where an oxygen tube could be seen in the mouth of the dead person, he admitted that it appeared that the person was ill before death.

“It appears that the family dumped the deceased here and went away. Maybe they were scared, I cannot say,” the official said.

Sources said that some of the bodies were not in a decomposed state, which indicates that they were buried recently.

Prayagraj Mayor, Abhilasha Gupta Nandi, who was filmed helping with the cremations on the river banks, told reporters that the state had a long tradition of burial by many communities.

While bodies buried in the mud are dissolved, the sandbanks tend to preserve them.

“Wherever we find exposed bodies because of the spate in the river, we are carrying out cremations,” Nandi said.

It may be recalled that visuals of mass shallow graves in the sands on the banks of the Ganga river at multiple locations in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had created international headlines in May, coinciding with the devastating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The visuals led to public outrage and it was believed that the deaths were due to Covid and the fatalities were being under-reported by Uttar Pradesh.

The state government had denied that the deaths were linked to the pandemic and had claimed that burial by the river is a long-standing tradition.