Hyderabad: A video showing mass cremation of over 50 bodies at the Erragada Crematorium near ESI Hospital in Hyderabad has gone viral. It was alleged that the video was shot on the night of 21 July when mass cremations of COVID-19 victims were conducted.
The president of the National Students Union of India, Telangana unit, Venkat Balmoor, shared the video on his social media page and claimed this was part of the state government's strategy to reduce the number of COVID-19 deaths from the official count.
NewsMeter spoke to D. Vinayaka, the son of one of the deceased, who was present during the mass cremations that night. His father had tested positive for corona virus on 15 July and passed away on 20 July at Secunderabad's Apollo Hospital. As a witness to the event, he said it was illegal to cremate bodies that way.
"My father died on the night of 20 July. We were told that the regular crematorium staff was on strike but there was another way to conduct the cremations," he said. His family was then offered a "death package" of Rs. 25,000 to cremate his father the same day at this venue.
Once the family agreed, they were taken to the crematorium where dozens of other bodies were cremated along with his father's. "They even poured diesel to hasten the process," he added.
However, when Newsmeter contacted government officials to inquire about the same, they refuted any claims of fudging COVID fatality figures.
The director of public health, Dr. G. Srinivas Rao, said, "Our GHMC staff has been unable to cremate bodies for the past three-four days due to some reasons." He further claimed that the bodies seen in the video were of those of people who had died over a period of time and not on the same day.