Morgue Goof-up: Kin Cremate Wrong Body

Sons of a 78-year-old dead man cremated an ex-serviceman, mistaking him for their father.

Published: 27th December 2013 09:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th December 2013 09:15 AM   |  A+A-

Sons of a 78-year-old dead man cremated an ex-serviceman, mistaking him for their father.

When the family of Lt Col Sohan Lal (85), who died on Tuesday, went to Baptist Hospital to collect his body on Thursday morning, the hospital, gave them a body that didn’t look like him.

Sohan Lal, a native of Punjab, had settled in Yelahanka New Town. He was admitted to the hospital, on Hebbal Road, with diabetic complications on December 18.

He died on Tuesday, but his family told the hospital that they would collect the body on Thursday as some relatives were expected from Punjab and other places. The body was shifted to the mortuary.

Meanwhile, Venkataraju (78), a resident of Vinayakanagar in Bagalur, also a diabetic, was admitted to the same hospital on Tuesday. He died the same night. His body was shifted to the mortuary as well.

On Wednesday, when Venkataraju’s family went to the hospital, they were handed the body of Sohan Lal. Without realising the mistake, they took the body and performed his last rites at the Hebbal crematorium, police said.

On Thursday, when Sohan Lal’s family said the body was not his, the mortuary staff went into a huddle. They checked their records and found that Venkataraju’s family had claimed Sohan Lal’s body. Immediately, they contacted Venkataraju’s family.

“But we have already completed the last rites,” the police quoted his family as saying.

The hospital staff then told Sohan Lal’s family about the mix-up.

A heated argument ensued and the family took the staff to task.

Meanwhile, Venkataraju’s family arrived at the mortuary. The two families started arguing heatedly. They were angry with each other but held the hospital mainly responsible for the muddle. 

When Sohan Lal’s son approached the Hebbal police, they were flummoxed by the nature of the case. They were wondering under which section of the IPC they should book a case. A senior police officer said, “We are seeking legal opinion. Venkataraju’s family said they had not noticed the body properly before the last rites.”

Look-alike Problem

Venkataraju’s relatives claimed Sohan Lal resembled Venkataraju, which is why they had gone ahead and cremated him. Sohan Lal’s son has filed a police complaint against the hospital staff and Venkataraju’s relatives.

Dr Alexander Thomas, Director, Bangalore Baptist Hospital said the mix-up was “unfortunate” and he had sought explanations from the mortuary and St Peter’s Undertaker, who had taken the body from the crematorium. “They say the body was identified by all of Venkataraju’s sons and then taken away.”

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