Crematoriums here claim that the last rites of as many as 2557 coronavirus victims from Bhopal district were performed in April, sharply contradicting the BJP-led state government's data which puts the COVID-19 deaths in the district last month at 104.
The mammoth mismatch has given credence to claims of massive under-reporting of COVID-19 fatalities in the city.
Managers of two crematoriums and a cemetery in Bhopal told PTI that the last rites of 3811 people, including 2557 coronavirus patients from Bhopal district, were performed in the city last month.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra recently rubbished allegations about the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government underreporting COVID-19 deaths in the state.
"Altogether 2052 people were cremated at our facility last month. As many as 1654 of them had died of coronavirus," Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat crematorium secretary Mamtesh Sharma said.
Those 1654 bodies had reached the crematorium from COVID-19 designated centres in air-tight plastic bags as per coronavirus protocol to prevent the spread of the disease, Sharma said, adding they were consigned to flames.
The Bhadbhada crematorium and the Zada cemetery in Bhopal were initially authorised to perform the last rites of COVID-19 patients in the district, an official said.
However, due to the rise in fatalities, another crematorium, the Subhash Nagar Vishram Ghat, was also allowed to conduct the last rites, he said.
"The last rites of 1386 persons were performed at our crematorium last month. As many as 727 of them had died due to the coronavirus," Subhash Nagar Vishram Ghat manager Sobhraj Sukhwani said.
The bodies were cremated while following COVID-19 protocol, Sukhwani said.
Rehan Golden, president of the Zada cemetery committee in the Jahangirabad area said 373 burials, including those of 176 coronavirus victims, took place in the Muslim burial ground last month.
The official coronavirus death toll in Bhopal district last month, collated using the daily bulletins issued by the Madhya Pradesh government in April, comes to 104.
As per the government records, coronavirus has so far claimed 742 lives in Bhopal since the first case was reported last year.
Madhya Pradesh Saturday reported 12,379 new COVID-19 cases and 102 fatalities, taking the tally of infections to 5,75,706 and the death toll to 5,718 in the state, a health department official said.