Most of us have been shocked, indeed horrified at the sight of over a hundred human bodies that surfaced in our holy river, Ganga, near Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. And even before one could get over the shock, came news that half a dozen more bodies were discovered under similar circumstances in river Betwa in the Barusagar area of Jhansi.
No one is yet sure of what the real cause of these horrific incidents is. Theories and explanations are several.
1. Some traditional practices believe minors and unmarried girls are not cremated or buried, so they are simply allowed to flow away in the river
2. Some believe that last rites are not performed on those who die of snake bites
3. Priests, in order to save on wood and also to cremate more than what would generally be possible in a day, let not fully burnt bodies flow away. And of course,
4. The police department disposes of unclaimed bodies to save money and even to escape registering a case in their area.
Whatever the reason or cause be, the sight of dead bodies floating in the river and eagles and vultures and dogs feasting on them is something any nation would be ashamed of.
Dignity to the dead is something that cannot be compromised with. Period. Even in a war, any civilized society ensures that the enemy soldier is given the burial as per his/her traditions and customs. At times, the bodies are even handed over to the other party, for the dignity of the dead soldier is important. When this dignity can be maintained at the time of war, shouldn't it be a given to a person at any other time?
We have been spending thousands of crores over years in an attempt to clean our rivers. Seems the amount of money that has flowed in the so called attempt to clean these rivers is actually more than the amount of water itself. But yet again, there is a renewed bid to clean up the Ganga even as the nation's apex court has pulled up the government severely for the tardiness in getting its act together in 30 years. And this isn't the first time the apex court has pulled up the government in power. And be sure, it won't be the last either.
One just wonders! Do these politicians who shamelessly loot our taxpayers money in the name of cleaning up our rivers, or those who build airstrips in their villages, once again using our money, so that their expensive luxury cars don't have to suffer the potholed roads they provide us commoners, have a conscience?
If they do, would it be very difficult to earmark some funds to ensure that the dead always get the dignity he or she deserves? Dignity to the dead should be a right. Isn't it!
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.