NEW DELHI — Police are reaching out to villagers in northern India to investigate the recovery of bodies buried in shallow sand graves or washing up on the Ganges River banks. There’s been speculation on social media that they are the remains of COVID-19 victims.
In jeeps and boats, police are using portable loudspeakers asking people not to dispose of bodies in rivers.
On Friday, rains exposed the cloth coverings of bodies buried on the riverbank in Prayagraj, a city in Uttar Pradesh state. A state government spokesman on Sunday denied local media reports that more than 1,000 corpses of COVID-19 victims were recovered from rivers in the past two weeks.
But others say COVID-19 deaths in the countryside are rising.
Ramesh Kumar Singh, a member of Bondhu Mahal Samiti, a philanthropic organization that helps cremate bodies, said the number of deaths is very high in rural areas, and poor people have been disposing of the bodies in the river because of the exorbitant cost of performing the last rites and a shortage of wood. The cremation cost has tripled up to 15,000 rupees ($210).