He was denied a mortuary van or an ambulance so Dana Manjhi carried his wife’s body on his shoulders for 16 kms for her funeral.
The incident, which is causing huge embarrassment for the Odisha government, happened in Kalahandi district of the state.
Manjhi is a 48-year-old tribal resident of Melagahara village in the district’s Thuamul Rampur block. His wife, Amanga Dei Majhi, 42, died of tuberculosis at the district headquarters hospital in Bhawanipatna, 60 km from Melagahara.
Manjhi said that he requested the district and hospital authorities to arrange for a vehicle but since no one turned up to help, he decided to carry the body himself.
His 12-year-old daughter, Sanadei Manjhi, who accompanied him saw how, with a heavy heart, her father carried the dead body of her mother.
She was inconsolable but her father held himself together and kept on telling her not to cry.
It was only after he had walked 16 kms that some locals, including a journalist, spotted him.
They inquired and upon learning of Manjhi’s plight arranged for an ambulance with help from a local MLA.
The state government is being criticized for not being able to help Dana in spite of ambulances lying unutilized in the district and that there is a scheme which allows free carriage of bodies.
Reports say that an embarrassed district administration has announced a financial assistance of Rs.10,000 for Dana.
But Kalahandi district collector claims that Majhi did not wait for a vehicle to be arranged.