Outrage after India workers carry woman’s body on pole

Outrage after India workers carry woman's body on poleNEW DELHI: A video of Indian hospital workers crushing the dead body of an elderly woman and hoisting it from a pole because of a shortage of ambulances has become the second incident in a week to spark outrage in India.

The footage shows workers in Orissa state appearing to break the hips of the woman, aged about 80, who died after being hit by a train, and bundling her into a sheet to carry away.

It comes days after a video emerged of a man who was forced to walk for hours carrying his wife’s corpse 10 kilometres (six miles) home from hospital, after she died of tuberculosis.

The two incidents in the eastern state of Orissa have been shared widely on social media and television networks, drawing outrage from users at authorities’ treatment of impoverished patients.

“This is extremely distressing. We are enquiring into the matter. We are also taking steps to have ambulances to transport bodies,” Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told reporters.

The state government has launched a free hearse service in the state following the incident, he added.

Public hospitals in India often refuse to provide ambulances to relatives to carry the bodies of loved ones home, forcing them to hire expensive private hearses.

“Some allegations have been made and we have also seen the video. We will investigate the alleged lapse,” V. T. Mishra, inspector general of police for railways in the coastal state told AFP after the most recent incident.

India’s public health system suffers from massive shortages of infrastructure and manpower, with government spending accounting for less than five percent of GDP, according to the World Bank.