LAHORE: While spending millions of rupees on luxury vehicles for bureaucrats, three state organizations are reluctant to pay a small sum of ‘Rs 200’ each for identification of unclaimed bodies in order to help families reach them to perform their final rituals.
The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and Hospitality and Health Services of Punjab transfer to each other the burden of allocating the necessary funds to bear the costs/expenses under the heading “identification unknown/unattended bodies and patients”.
A few days ago, unknown bodies were found on the roof of Nishtar Medical University in Multan.
Two years ago, the High Court in Lahore ordered the three institutes to sign a memorandum of understanding for “biometric fingerprinting of unknown corpses/unsupervised/unidentified patients/addicts in 26 hospitals in the seat of government”. , 115 tehsil seats and 44 educational institutions. hospitals in Punjab”.
Punjab Home and Health Departments, Nadra yet to comply with LHC order
Under the much-needed scheme, only Rs 200 was required to pay for the ‘biometric verification service’ of every unclaimed/unknown body or patient, presenting to major government hospitals in Punjab.
Unfortunately, the program has been on hold for about two years because no one was ready to implement it according to the LHC orders.
On the other hand, the Standing Cabinet Committee on Finance and Development on September 10 approved a summary released after the Chief Minister’s approval that the Punjab government would purchase 40 new vehicles for CM House and members of the cabinet at the price of 300 rupees. million.
An official with knowledge of the development told Dawn that Mayo Hospital in Lahore alone receives nearly 40 to 50 unclaimed bodies each month other than unknown patients in its heavily loaded emergency and accident ward.
Similarly, he said, Lahore Jinnah Hospital, Lahore General Hospital and these mortuaries were also receiving “unclaimed bodies” and unknown patients every day.
Under the decades-old system, gross human rights abuses went unnoticed as unknown bodies were either buried in local cemeteries or sold to medical institutions for experimentation.
For this, the official said, the local police used to carry out brief legal formalities to “dispose” of bodies labeled as “unknown bodies” without an identification process.
This unethical practice revealed many painful stories to families when they managed to find their loved ones in “unknown graves” in the city, most of them in Shehr-i-Khamoshan.
The official said that Dr. Salman Kazmi of Mayo Hospital moved the High Court from Lahore in 2020, filed a petition through a senior lawyer, Azhar Siddique, asking for a directive for the Punjab government to declare Mandatory biometric verification of every unclaimed body and unknown patient.
The LHC then issued guidelines for state institutions, including Nadra and the Punjab Home and Health Departments, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to bring the program to fruition.
Since then, the relevant stakeholders have held several official meetings, but no compliance has been ensured on the LHC directives, the file being limited “only” to official correspondence between these government departments.
In the latest letter written by the Punjab Health Secretary to the Director of Nadra Operations Registration Wing, Qasim Rizvi on July 18 this year, the former stated that human and other resources are available in public sector hospitals in Punjab for biometric identification of unclaimed bodies. and sick.
In response, Nadra Islamabad had told the health department on August 10 that the organization would charge Rs200 per case for the biometric verification service.
Posted in Dawn, October 17, 2022