During the horrific period of the coronavirus epidemic, there have been reports of several bodies found in the Ganges river in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. These bodies are believed to belong to patients of Covid-19, whose relatives could not find a place for their last rites and were thrown into the river. Some similar incidents have happened in the country even before and a terrible epidemic was the reason behind them.
Actually, something similar happened during the Influenza Epidemic, which is also commonly known as Spanish Flu. More than a century ago, the bodies were seen floating in the Narmada River, which is now part of Madhya Pradesh. The Indian Express quoted the National Archives report as telling what had happened in those days.
The National Archives contains a report titled “Influenza epidemic in India in 1918”. This report contains another report of the Foreign and Political Department of the Government of India dated June 1919. This report contains a detailed note sent by the General Officer Commanding 5th Division (Mhow) on 12 November 1918.
The excerpt from this letter is, “I have received your information about a report by a political agent in the southern states on the pollution of the Nurbada (now Narmada) river caused by the corpses of influenza patients.” The note was written to Major General in charge of the Army’s Southern Command.
The report begins with shocking reports about the severe pollution situation in the Narmada River at Khalghat (a city in Madhya Pradesh).
It said, “A large number of mutilated corpses have been found in the stream between Khalghat Dharampuri. Many people are dying in the same family, those who go to the crematorium for the last rites, from this epidemic of influenza Suffered so badly that cremation had become impossible. “
Why did the bodies shed in Narmada?
Political agents say in this report that the situation created by the epidemic was beyond normal systems and that the situation was so bad that wood or cow dung cakes were not available, so the bodies were dumped in the Narmada.
Not only this, the sailors in Narmada said that the corpses were always entangled with their boats and the smell was so bad that they could not cross the river.
How the dead bodies were removed?
The report said that the dead bodies were removed from the simple but extremely dirty way of shedding through the stream. The bodies, which were far away in the river, were carried forward and some were taken out by boat and loaded into vehicles. The agent said that about eight mutilated bodies were seen flowing in the river on which the crows were sitting.
What was the outbreak of epidemic in that area?
Agents reported that many of the dispensary doctors themselves are ill and the stock of medicines has run out. Dewan told me that more than 4,000 people are ill in Dhar city and about 900 patients visit the hospital every day.
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