During the month of April, in the Bhopal district of Madhya Pradesh, the government record of COVID-related deaths was 109. However, crematoriums in the district said that nearly 2557 laid to rest under coronavirus protocol from April 1-30. This huge mismatch is now bosting claims of massive under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths.
Two managers of different crematoriums and cemetery said to PTI that in April the last rites of 3811 people were performed in their facilities, of which 2557 people were coronavirus patients. According to their records, 1254 non-COVID death rituals were also performed.
Home Minister Narottam Mishra said that these reports emerging from the crematoriums are not true and allegations of underreporting COVID deaths on the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government are completely baseless.
At Vishram Ghat crematorium, 1654 bodies were sent by various COVID centres. These bodies were packed in tight bags in order to avoid spreading of the virus. COVID protocols were followed while performing the last rituals of these bodies.
“Altogether 2052 people were cremated at our facility last month. As many as 1654 of them had died of coronavirus,” said Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat crematorium secretary Mamtesh Sharma.
Initially, Bhadbhada crematorium and the Zada cemetery were commissioned to perform rituals of deaths related to COVID-19. But later due to the rise in the number of deaths, Subhash Nagar Vishram Ghat was also assigned to manage COVID bodies.
“The last rites of 1386 persons were performed at our crematorium last month. As many as 727 of them had died due to the coronavirus,” Subhash Nagar Vishram Ghat manager Sobhraj Sukhwani said.
At Zada cemetery, around 373 burials took place in the month of April, according to Rehan Golden, President of the Cemetery Committee, of the total burials that took place, 176 were coronavirus victims.
According to official government reports, the virus so far claimed 742 lives in the Bhopal district since the beginning of the pandemic.
As India is facing a tsunami of cases in the second wave it is now widely believed that the reported deaths are low. People on social media are posting on how their loved ones lost their lives even before testing. In many cases, if a person lost life before the test results are out, hospitals are not giving out results to avoid death as COVID.
Reports from crematoriums in big cities are showing huge differences in government numbers and bodies actually cremated. Interviews and videos of people who lost their loved ones are spreading on the internet showing that the official records are clearly underreported.
In a recent article on Financial Times by John Burn-Murdoch, according to various data, the number of COVID victims cremated is 10x larger than the official death record produced by the government.
However, experts are opposing the number 10x represented in the article, but agreeing to the fact that under-reporting is happening. In fact, they suggested that the number of COVID deaths happening in the country is 2x of what the government is showing.