Twenty-eight-year-old television journalist Mounish Pothraj had just completed his final assignment at a private TV channel in Karnatakaâ€™s Karwar district and was on his way home to Shirahatti in Gadag, when his bike rammed into a tree on Sunday morning.
The accident killed Mounish almost instantaneously. The events which unfolded after his death brought out the horrifying apathy by the police, the local government hospital and the civic authorities and their complete lack of respect for the dead.
With no ambulance available to transport Mounishâ€™s body to the mortuary, the municipal authorities offered a garbage tractor to the police. Mounishâ€™s body was loaded into this garbage tractor and then taken to the Hanagal Taluk Hospital mortuary the body was taken. They were refused an ambulance before post mortem.
Speaking to TNM, Mounishâ€™s brother Mahadevappa, cried out at the horrifying treatment doled out to Mounish. â€śHe was always thinking about helping people but when he died, they just dumped his body in a garbage truck. Even the people at the taluk hospital refused to perform the autopsy until a bribe was paid. We are deeply pained by the turn of events. The municipal corporation and the hospital did not help us out at all. No one bothered to send an ambulance. When we pleaded, they performed the autopsy but were not willing to release my brotherâ€™s body until we paid Rs 700 bribe. This is the treatment we faced in a situation when everyone in my family were already devastated by the loss of my brotherâ€™s life,â€ť Mahadevappa says.
On Sunday morning, Mounish had completed his last assignment â€“ an event where actor Prakash Raj was the speaker. Mounish and his cameraperson Basu had completed the assignment in Sirsi and both were on their way home to meet their families for Makara Sankranti.
â€śMounish dropped me off to the bus stop in Sirsi as I had to catch a bus to my home town â€“ Hubballi. He had seen me off till the bus stop. He bade me goodbye and said he was happy to have worked with me. He was nostalgic about it being our last assignment together. He was a sincere man. When I heard that he was dead, I was shocked,â€ť Mounishâ€™s friend Basu told TNM.
When contacted, Haveri district Superintendent of Police, Parashuram K said that he was deeply sorry about having transported Mounishâ€™s body in a garbage truck.
â€śIt was a mistake to transport his body in a garbage truck. The problem is that the police department has no vehicle which can transport dead bodies. Besides, the ambulances in the area do not transport dead bodies before the post mortem report is out,â€ť SP Parashuram added.
â€śIn these kind of situations the police use whatever vehicles they are able to get hold of and usually we contact the civic authorities. Since yesterday was a festival, the only vehicle available was the garbage tractor. Our Circle Inspector and Sub Inspector tried contacting the local PHCs and Taluk Hospital for an ambulance but no one was willing to provide one. We could not leave the manâ€™s body lying there. We had to get him to the hospital,â€ť he said.
When TNM contacted Hanagal Taluk Hospital, the authorities denied being contacted by the police, who requested an ambulance. The authorities, however, refused to comment on the issue of the alleged bribe taken to release Mounishâ€™s body.
After news of the apathy doled out by the authorities got out, Karnataka Chief Minister SIddaramaiah said that he has ordered the Additional Director General of Police (Northern Range) to probe the matter.
I am pained to read this. I have asked ADGP & Commissioner of Traffic & Road Safety to get a report into this incidence from the IGP of the Northern range & take action. @tniekiran1 https://t.co/CyqfyyYFZsâ€” Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) January 15, 2018