22:56 GMT12 June 2021
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    Over the past week, hundreds of bodies suspected to be of COVID victims have been found floating in rivers in different Indian states. Authorities are probing these incidents.

    Panic has gripped the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh after several bodies were found buried in the sand along the holy Ganges River in the Unnao district. There was no confirmation if these bodies were of COVID victims.

    Speaking to Sputnik, residents of the village of Baksar in Unnao said the bodies were found to be in various stages of decomposition, some were even mauled by stray dogs.

    "First, bodies were found floating in a river in the state, and now buried in sand. We want to know what is happening in Uttar Pradesh. There are kids also who live in the village and such incidents would leave an impact on them", villager Jitendra Sharma says.

    ​Another villager, Mohit Pandey mentioned that with the monsoon barely a month away, there are chances that these bodies will be washed away once the Ganges River becomes flooded with water.

    "We request the authorities to exhume the bodies and perform a proper cremation", Pandey says.

    Villagers have also revealed that ever since the coronavirus death toll began rising, the prices for performing cremation have also surged.

    "People at crematoriums are selling packages to perform the final rites at INR 15,000 to 20,000 ($205 to $271) and the poor can't afford it, so there are chances that they are opting for riverside burials", Pandey explains.

    Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh authorities say that Baksar is a major cremation spot for three districts: Fatehpur, Rai Bareily, and Unnao.

    "Our team has found buried bodies... Searches are being conducted to recover more bodies in other areas. An inquiry has been initiated following which action will be taken", Ravinder Kumar, the Unnao district magistrate, told reporters.

    Over the past week, scores of bodies have been found floating on the banks of the Ganges River in Ghazipur and Ballia districts in Uttar Pradesh. Bodies were also discovered in the Buxar district of Bihar, and in the state of Madhya Pradesh.


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