Govt mortuary at Pantha Chowk presents a sight of utter disgust
Blood trickles down an apron hung on a window, stains of dried up blood have created an imprint on the floor and amidst the dusty surroundings a rusty trolley lies in the middle of the floor where a body has recently undergo autopsy. The government mortuary at Pantha Chowk is a sight of utter disgust.
With no facility in place, this one room mortuary looks more like an abandoned house that has not been cleaned for years together. The blood stained gloves and tissues are piled up around the corner. The rim of the stainless steel washbasin is covered with a thick layer of dust.
The crumbs of thermocol left by rats lay scattered on the floor, and on every corner spiders can be seen hanging from their cobwebs. The mortuary is so full of imperfections that nothing really stands out.
"This is not a mortuary; it's a slaughter house even worse than that. The protocols that are laid for having a standard mortuary, the mortuary does not have even one," said a Forensic expert on conditions of anonymity.
The mortuary lacks the basic autopsy table; a rusty table is used for the examination of the bodies. And the deep freezer where the bodies are kept, too, has developed rust because of its poor maintenance.
"Since the uprising of 2016 the mortuary was closed, and all the autopsies were done at the Police Control Room (PCR), and recently they have started the facility, again, in Panthachowk, but without even cleaning the room they started doing post mortem of the bodies," said the Forensic expert.
According to the standard procedure laid by the Medical Council of India, "a mortuary should have an electric saw with accessories, weighing machine for weighing dead bodies, autopsy table, and balance chemicals"
Further the MCI guidelines read, "A mortuary should have a dissection set consisting of cartilage knife bones, cutting forceps scissors, and other necessary equipments."
But apart from the antiquated hammer and few forceps the run-down mortuary is too primitive to have any modern equipment.
"There has to be a separate autopsy room and cold storage room, but here in Panthachowk the one room is stuffed with everything. There is no facility of even ventilation in the mortuary," said the expert.
Also, the mortuary is grossly ill equipped so much so that you sometimes end up harming a body with the limited tools you have. "If in the autopsy we have to ascertain whether or not the body had a skull fracture. With no sophistic tools around, we open the head with the hammer and the body develops a fracture; so it becomes difficult to ascertain, later, whether the body had a fracture or developed fracture because we hit him with a hammer."
Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman, said, "This is the responsibility of Government Medical College to take care of the mortuary, because they have a full-fledged department that deals with the Forensic science. This responsibility has been thrust on us, otherwise this is not job of Directorate of Health Services to take care of the mortuary."