The Uttar Pradesh government is headed by a politician who wears saffron robes, signifying Hindu monastic traditions. But if news reports from UP are to be believed, the state’s administrative machinery is indulging in the un-Hindu act of putting mud on the dead to hide the corpses that have started floating on the holy Ganga. According to a Hindi newspaper, the Ganga has been carrying over 2,000 bodies in its journey through 27 districts of UP. Local journalists claim to have sighted 900 bodies in Unnao, 350 in Kannauj, 400 in Kanpur and 280 in Ghazipur; and these are mere guesstimates. That these corpses were either thrown into the river or abandoned on the banks of the Ganga, points to the possibility of the perpetrators being pious Hindus. But, instead of a mass cremation or a decent disposal, the district administration and the police are reported to have merely thrown soil atop the bodies.
This is not just un-Hindu, but it is unhygienic, unhealthy and unscientific. When the water level in the river rises, these bodies are bound to float again if they are not buried deep far away from the river. The likelihood of diseases these corpses could spread through the state’s most important water body ought to have shaken up the authorities. But no amount of suffering seems to make any difference to certain politicians, who have failed to offer life breath to the living, let alone the dignity of a cremation to the dead.
If the poor of UP have let their dead float on Ganga Ma praying for their deliverance at least in the other world, the middle classes have been begging for slots to cremate their loved ones in the national capital. A former senior journalist of a reputed TV station has recently written about the mind-numbing experience of having to see her father getting cremated along with two others for want of space. Visuals from Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district of a son carrying the body of his mother on his shoulder and walking alone to the crematorium sum up the Indian tragedy of inadequacies.