Wednesday, April 11, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Government stops cremation of bodies
Forensic analysis likely; doctors to visit villages
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, April 10
Mystery shrouds the discovery of decomposed bodies from the banks of the Sutlej near several villages along the Indo-Pakistan border. More than 50 bodies, including those of women and children, in a highly decomposed and mutilated condition were found during the past couple of days near Alike, Habibwala, Khundergatti and Kunde villages, sending a shock wave in the region.

Residents of these villages retrieved the bodies with the help of some social voluntary organisations and cremated them. The district authorities have now put restriction on any such cremation.

The bodies were first noticed near Habibke village where they were found struck near the sluice gates.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.S. Sidhu, said the water-level in the river was low as repair work was going on at Hussainiwala headworks. In order to facilitate the work, the flow of water was being controlled at Harike headworks. If the water had not receded, the bodies would never have surfaced.

Some residents feel that the poor generally immersed the bodies in rivers for want of money to cremate them. Also, some communities, especially Rai Sikhs, immersed the bodies instead of cremating them.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sidhu, who along with other senior officials visited the spot, said since no complaint was lodged with the authorities from any quarter, there was no question of an inquiry. He said if the religious sentiments of any person had been hurt, the administration was ready to look into the matter and constitute an inquiry.

Addressing a Press conference today, Mr Sidhu said the repair work at Hussainiwala headworks would be completed by April 15. The Civil Surgeon had been directed to constitute a board of doctors which would go on the spot to conduct the post-mortem examination of the bodies.

The DIG, Mr Hardeep Singh Dhillon, who also visited various villages, ruled out the possibility of any mala fide intention or the hand of unscrupulous elements in the entire episode. He said the need of the hour was to project the things in the right perspective so that no such inference was drawn which might hurt the sentiments of any religion or community.

He said the police would take action under Section 174 of the CrPC and security had been tightened in and around these villages so that no untoward incident took place. He said the bodies would be protected from animals. He admitted that there was a possibility of more such “skeletons” resurfacing if the water receded further. If required, forensic analysis would also be done.

When this correspondent visited these villages, the residents said the tradition of immersing bodies was very old. Basir of Alike said he had immersed the body of his brother in the river several years ago.

Raj, a Rai Sikh of Alike, said the bodies of his uncle and nephew had been immersed in river waters a few years ago. According to Sheeru, sarpanch of the village, they had already asked the police not to allow anybody to immerse bodies in the river.

However, no police post exists in far-flung areas and it was difficult to stop this practice. Shivji, a fishing contractor, said such immersions often took place in this region and it was a routine feature to come across such bodies.

Even though the administration denies any foul play, some villagers say the bodies are being brought in trucks late in the night, hence the involvement of unscrupulous elements cannot be ruled out.Back

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |