A few videos purportedly shot at a cremation ground in Hyderabad are raising concerns over how the COVID-19 deaths are being reported in Telangana. The visuals show several dead bodies being burnt while some people stand by and others are engaged in burning them. As these videos surfaced on social media, the opposition parties and activists have alleged that the government is downplaying and under-reporting the COVID-19 deaths in Hyderabad.
National Students Union,Telangana President Venkat Balmoor said that the videos emerging from the graveyard compound of ESI in Hyderabad are proof of the government downplaying COVID-19 deaths in Hyderabad.
Everything about #Covid_19: number of cases & deaths are manipulated. The Telangana government is making every attempt to cover up their misgivings. I'm coming out with a proof of govt's wrong reporting of Corona deaths. The video attached shows the cremation of 50 bodies. pic.twitter.com/6EtaQlUiB5â€” Venkat Balmoor (@VenkatBalmoor) July 22, 2020
"The Telangana government is making every attempt to cover up their misgivings about the number of coronavirus deaths. The COVID-19 deaths are under-reported in the state. More than 50 bodies were burnt on July 21 at the ESI graveyard. If they are not COVID-19 bodies, then why were they burnt in a hasty manner. If those were normal deaths, why were they conducted after 6 pm," he said, adding that the government is not giving proper information on what is happening in the state with regard to COVID-19.
Congress MLA Danasari Seethakka took to Twitter to raise the issue. "On July 21, the reported coronavirus deaths are said to be seven by the government, whereas more than 30 bodies were cremated at ESI graveyard only. The government, from the beginning, has been providing us with wrong statistics, to hide their incapability in controlling the virus," she tweeted with the hashtag, #KCRFailedTelangana."
Shocking— Danasari Anasuya (Seethakka) (@seethakkaMLA) July 22, 2020
On 21st July, the reported #Corona deaths are said to be 7 by Govt whereas more than 30 bodies were cremated at ESI graveyard only
The govt from the beginning itself providing us wrong statistics to hide their incapability in controlling the virus #KCRFailedTelangana pic.twitter.com/iFDgf57yYv
TNM managed to speak to a family member of a COVID-19 victim from Kukatpally, who claimed that they shot the videos to show the reality despite security screening to hush up the heavy number of COVID deaths.
"Two private hospitals have charged us heavily without even giving bare minimum treatment to my brother. He died on the evening of July 20 but his body was given for cremation on July 21, after 6 pm. There were 32 other bodies to be cremated at that point. We were charged us Rs 25,000 for the cremation," said the family member, who did not want to be named.
The staff of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) are designated to take the bodies from hospitals and cremate or bury them according to the COVID-19 protocols. The government has made the burial and cremation free of cost.
The staff of GHMC have reportedly been demanding regulations in their work and higher salary. Dr K Ramesh Reddy, Director of Medical Education, attributed the ongoing problem in the GHMC as the reason for the probable mass cremations.
"Due to some issues in the civic body for the last three to four days, the GHMC staff designated for cremating the bodies could not be mobilised. So, they took all the bodies and cremated them in a single day. That could probably explain the mass cremation. However, they have sorted out the issue and the cremation is happening every day now,â€ť he said.
When reporters asked about the allegations of under-reporting of deaths, the DME denied them and said, â€śWhen we are releasing bulletins, they have to be correct. Also, there are no charges for the cremation of COVID-19 dead bodies.â€ť