BHUBANESWAR: For the family members of 17-year-old Pragyan Saswati Priyadarshini, who were yet to come to terms with the loss of her life, more agony was in store on Sunday. They had to wait for more than 30 hours to get possession of their daughter’s body as two government hospitals were not willing to perform post-mortem.
After Pragyan’s body was found near Kuhuri railway station in Khurdha on Saturday under mysterious circumstances, the Government Railway Police (GRP) registered a case of unnatural death and sent it to Khurda District Headquarters Hospital for post-mortem. Despite repeated pleas of Pragyan’s family before the doctors to perform the post-mortem and release the body so that they would conduct the last rites, there was no response. Pragyan was a first year student of Arts of Ravenshaw Junior College, Cuttack.
The girl’s family and Khurda GRP finally gave up as the doctors denied to perform the autopsy and decided to move to Capital Hospital next morning. To their dismay, a single-room mortuary of the District Hospital was bereft of a freezing chamber. The body was kept in the Railway Hospital at Jatni.
On Sunday also, woes of the bereaved family did not end. The Capital Hospital authorities were reluctant to accept the case citing jurisdiction problem. The Khurda GRP officers had to run from pillar to post to convince the doctors and it was only after the hospital Director Dr Binod Mishra intervened, the post-mortem was conducted. It was 3.30 pm by then.
“I was repeatedly getting calls from my family. Everybody was waiting for the cremation. But the inordinate delay on the part of two hospitals was all the more agonising,” said Pragyan’s uncle Krushna Chandra Sahoo.
CDMO Khurda, Dr Sarada Prasanna Mishra admitted lack of infrastructure at the district headquarters hospital to handle bodies in medico-legal cases. There is no separate building where the bodies can be kept and the hospital has an in-house one-room morgue. While a freezer has been procured for preserving bodies, the Equipment Handling department has not installed it as it requires a separate facility. “The plan for the proposed mortuary building has been approved by the district administration and PWD will take up the work within a month,” Dr Mishra said.
Meanwhile, Khurda Colllector Niranjan Sahu has taken strong exception to the disturbing experience of the family. “I will inquire into the matter and seek reports from the officials concerned,” Sahu said.
A native of Sana Nairi village under Banpur police limits, the 17-year-old had left home for Cuttack on Friday morning. She later called up her parents to confirm that she reached her hostel in Cuttack safely. But, Pragyan was found dead on the tracks near Kuhuri Railway Station a day later and there were injury marks on her head.