Bodies go missing in beggars' colony, finds probe

Last Updated 15 October 2010, 18:41 IST

An inquiry into the mysterious deaths at the colony, where over a period of eight months 286 beggars died under mysterious circumstances, has unearthed gross violations ranging from financial irregularities, administrative and operations inefficiency, medical negligence to downright inhumane attitude of the staff.

These acts of gratuitous violations colluded to turn the beggars’ lives into an unending nightmare which came to light in August when nearly 30 beggars died in the colony’s subhuman conditions, the report, which is in the possession of Deccan Herald, reveals.

Organ harvest
The most chilling finding of the report, prepared by National Rural Health Mission Director S Selvakumar, is that not only did many of the deaths take place under unexplained and mysterious circumstances, but several of the bodies also disappeared. In this context, Selvakumar’s report points to a grim suspicion that, as part of a large racket, vital organs could have been extracted from the wasted bodies and sold illegally on the human organ market.

Selvakumar has recommended a deeper investigation into reports of illegal extraction and sale of organs from the dead beggars’ bodies, indicating at the same time that the involvement of some colony officials could not be ruled out.

Shedding light on the shocking suppression of the death of at least 47 beggars, the report says that while the deaths were registered on the logs of the local primary health centre, the cremation or disposal of the bodies could not be accounted for.

Dismal healthcare
In a damning indictment of the healthcare services being provided at the colony, the inquiry found that the doctor at the centre, Dr Harimurthy of Karuna Trust, aged 50, was found to have taken a medical degree from Ambedkar Medical College when he was 48. Besides, he could not furnish a certificate to support the claim of being a registered medical practitioner.
The scale and magnitude of the negligence, according to the report, was such that several of the death certificates were found to have been signed by either the pharmacist or the staff nurse. More shocking was that the deaths were not entered into the log book maintained by the primary health centre.
The laboratory analysis of the food and stool samples taken from the colony in the wake of the August deaths, say that the stool samples tested positive for cholera bacteria, water and food like rice and sambar tested positive for E coli and were declared unfit for human consumption. Serious lapses have also been noted in the financial management of the colony.

 Fixed deposits, the sources of which were numerous (beggar cess and recovered cash), were maintained in parts in several banks across the City, which lowered the interest amounts. No records were maintained of cash or donations that the colony received. The documents that were collected in the course of the inquiry show that the only expenditure was under the salaries and civil works heads, which leads to the obvious conclusion that there was practically no expenses for beggars’ welfare, healthcare or rehabilitation.

Huge discrepancies were also found in the property register that detailed the amount collected from the beggars when they were rounded up and brought to the Centre as against the actual bank statements.

The then chairman of the Central Relief Committee, Manje Gowda, Superintendent Lakshmi Narasimhaiah and Chief Warden Hanumantharayappa have been held responsible for blatant violation of rules and taking uninformed decisions which led to the breakdown of all rules and regulations in the colony and eventually the death of scores of inmates.

(Published 15 October 2010, 18:41 IST)

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