Husband and son walk 4 km with woman’s body
The husband and son of a 72-year-old woman who died at a hospital in Jalpaiguri carried her body on their shoulders on Thursday for around 4km as they could not shell out the money demanded by private ambulances.
Laxmirani Dewan of Nagardanga village was on Wednesday admitted to Jalpaiguri Medical College and Hospital, some 30km away, with breathing trouble. She died the same night.
Her husband Jaykrishna and son Ramprasad decided to take the body back to their village on Thursday.
“I approached private ambulance drivers near the hospital. They demanded Rs 3,000. I told them humbly I could at best pay Rs 1,200. None responded,” said Ramprasad, 46, and a daily-wage labourer. Jaikrishna, 76, runs a small stall of pottery items in the village.
The son said they met hospital authorities but were told no vehicle service was available for bodies.
That’s when they decided to shoulder Laxmirani’s body and walk back home for her last rites.
As they walked toward NH27, many looked at them in surprise.
Their walk was cut short at Gosala More by members of social outfit Green Jalpaiguri. “We arranged for a free hearse,” said outfit secretary Ankur Das.
Dilip Das, secretary of the Jalpaiguri branch of All Bengal Ambulance Service, Trinamul Drivers and Attendance Workers’ Union, claimed they asked Ramprasad for Rs 2,000, not Rs 3,000. “He said he will carry the body in a different vehicle. We believe the incident was orchestrated to malign us,” he said. Hospital superintendent Kalyan Khan said: “There are two helpdesks that anyone can contact for ambulances. We found they didn’t contact any desk. Even so, we should be more alert.”