Coronavirus Pandemic

India: Man believed dead by family returns home after funeral

Filed on May 27, 2021


The family members had wrongly identified the body at the hospital morgue.

A 40-year-old man presumed dead showed up much to the surprise of his family, a week after they had performed a funeral mistakenly identifying a decomposed corpse as his body.

The goof-up took place after the state-run RK Hospital declared the body of a man named Goverdhan Prajapat, who was under treatment at the hospital, as 'unidentified' and later Omkar Lal Gadulia's relatives wrongly took possession of that body at Rajsamand district in Rajasthan.

Gadulia, a liquor addict, had gone to Udaipur without informing his family on May 11. He was admitted to a hospital owing to some liver-related problem. Gadulia's family was living with his brother after the coronavirus-induced lockdown, police said.

On the same day, Prajapat was taken from Mohi area to the RK Hospital by an ambulance service arranged by some public representatives. He died during treatment, they said.

“We had got a letter from the hospital authorities that a body was lying unclaimed at the mortuary for three days. We then circulated photographs of the deceased man on various fronts to identify the body,” Kankroli police station SHO Yogendra Vyas told PTI.

He said over a dozen people came to the hospital on May 15 to identify the body. Police were informed about it and the family members gave in writing to hand over the body to them without conducting any post-mortem.

The family members wrongly identified the body to be that of Gadulia going by a similar scar on his right hand and appearance, and the police handed over the body without conducting any post-mortem and DNA test.

“The body was identified by the family members. DNA testing and post-mortem by a medical board is conducted when the body is unidentified following which the body is usually handed over to municipality for cremation,” Vyas said.

The body was taken away and the final rites were performed on May 15 itself.

However, Gadulia returned home on May 23 and was shocked to learn that he was believed dead.

Later, the police launched an investigation and identified the body which Gadulia’s family had cremated as that of Goverdhan Prajapat.

“Police were nowhere at fault in this case. The body was declared unidentified by the hospital authorities,” Vyas said.

Meanwhile, the hospital authorities admitted that the whole incident was a goof-up on part of the nursing and mortuary staff.

“There was a huge patient load. The patient was admitted to the hospital through 108 ambulance service. The incident took place due to lack of coordination between the nursing and mortuary staff. Appropriate action will be taken in the matter,” Principal Medical Officer of RK Hospital, Lalit Purohit, said.

Prajapat is survived by three children, who had been sent to welfare home after his health deteriorated. His wife had left him due to his health issues, police said.

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