A two-year-old girl kept pulling the sheet off her mother’s body, while her brother, barely three months old, played on the same bed – both unaware that the mother, 20, was dead.
This was the scene at a patients’ ward at a Community Health Centre at Nainwa town in Rajasthan’s Tonk district, as the staff did not shift the body to the mortuary for six hours. They waited for police to show up from 15 kilometres away and complete some formalities.
The dead woman’s mother kept asking the children not to “disturb” their mother, telling them she was asleep. But the two-year-old kept trying to wake her, crying out, “Maa, maa (mother)”, repeatedly.
The shift to the mortuary happened after the police showed up. It was not clear exactly what ailment the woman, Shabana, died of. The family, daily-wage labourers, refused to get the autopsy done, saying she had “a long running problem in her abdomen”. Police said she was severely anemic.
The incident is from last week, when Shabana, whose in-laws are in Haryana’s Rewari, was at her parents’ house in Tonk’s Nagarfort town, about 15 km from Nainwa.
Her brother, Salim, said they were headed to Kota for Shabana’s treatment after the pain in her stomach had turned severe last Saturday. The family — Shabana, her two children, her mother and brother — took an auto-rickshaw from Nagarfort to Nainwa, from where they sat in a bus for Kota. But Shabana’s health deteriorated and they got off before the bus could leave Nainwa; and took her to the local Community Health Centre around noon.
Doctors called the Nainwa police station, from where a cop came and said the Nagarfort Police had been further informed. This constable said the body would be shifted out only after the Nagarfort Police would come, according to Salim.
The hospital staff covered the body with a sheet on the same bed.
The family and other patients admitted in the ward requested the Nainwa Police constable deputed there to shift the body to the mortuary or autopsy room.
Cops from Nagarfort reached around 6.30 pm and got the body removed to the mortuary. They waited for her husband to come from Haryana the next day for consent to carry out the autopsy. He did not give permission as medical reasons were cited for the death.
It is learnt that the Assistant Sub-Inspector at the Nainwa police station called the station in Nagarfort about the death around 2.30 pm. When no one showed up till 5 pm, he contacted higher officials, after which Nagarfort Police Station In-Charge Prabhu Singh reached the hospital by 6.30.
Prabhu Singh said he’d got the information around 3.30 but could not travel as the station’s assigned vehicle was unavailable. He explained the “rule” that in case a woman is married for less than seven years — Shabana was married four years ago — then both her parental and husband’s family need to give consent for any action after her death.
Nainwa health centre in-charge Samudra Lal Meena said the body was kept in the ward as her family’s consent was needed before it was shifted to the mortuary.