The footage of a grief-stricken man holding the body of his 3-year-old son wrapped in a sheet outside a government hospital in Anekal, Karnataka is what took him to get an ambulance to take his infant back home.
Safan Rai, a migrant worker from Assam, lost his son Rahim after an unidentified vehicle hit him on Sunday. The distressed man, who didn't speak the local language, had no idea he could ask for an ambulance at the hospital, free of cost, to transport the body of his son. The hospital didn't care to inform him either that he could — at least, not until he had resigned himself to waiting for his friend's two-wheeler to help him out, too poor to afford the expense of hiring an ambulance.
A video, which showed Rai weeping inconsolably, was circulated on social media and eventually caught the attention of the police. It was only then that it emerged the hospital had also not followed the protocol of informing the authorities of an accident death. The body was then taken back for post-mortem procedures and returned to the father wrapped in a shroud. This time, the hospital provided him with an ambulance to take the body of his toddler back home.
Rai's experience of being denied dignity as a bereaved father follows a long list of similar instances that have been reported over the last several months. In February this year, once again in Karnataka, another father had to carry his daughter's body in a moped because couldn't find an ambulance. But the incident that sparked a wave of outrage was of Dana Majhi, a tribal man in Odisha who had to carry his wife's body on his shoulder, followed by his weeping daughter, because the government refused him any help.
Since Majhi's plight, more such tragedies are being reported by the media and circulated on social media. Shortly after, a man in Madhya Pradesh was forced to carry the corpse of his mother on a motorbike after being refused by the ambulance he had called.
India recently passed a bill to improve mental healthcare services for its citizens, but the nation has miles go to before it can guarantee dignity in death to all and a more sensitive workforce in the medical sector.
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