A 24-year-old woman was reportedly pulled out alive from her funeral pyre by the police in Aligarh on Monday after her brother complained that his sister was not dead. The police, acting on the complaint of the victim's brother, had sent the 70 per cent burnt body for a post-mortem examination.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, Rachna Sisodia was declared dead of a lung infection on Sunday night by doctors at Sharda Hospital in Greater Noida. Her husband, 23-year-old Devesh Chaudhary, then took possession of her body and brought it to the cremation site.
But, as she was being cremated, the police pulled her out the pyre, after her family members alleged that she was being burnt alive. The post-mortem report revealed that the victim had died due to 'shock of burning' and her windpipe was choked with soot. The Times of India reported that "ash found in her respiratory tract suggested she may have been alive and breathing when she was being cremated".
Initially, the hospital that pronounced her dead has stood by its diagnosis. "There was no laxity on the part of the doctors of the hospital. We reconfirm that the patient had died due to acute respiratory distress syndrome and multiple organ failure," Dr Rahul Singh, an assistant professor in anaesthesia and critical care, told The Hindustan Times.
Soon after the post-mortem report was released, an FIR was lodged by the police against the Noida-based woman's husband and members of his village in Aligarh, based on a complaint by the woman's family. Rachna's maternal uncle accused her husband and ten others of sexually assaulting and killing her.
Several questions were also raised against the medical staff of Sharda Hospital, who had declared her dead. The doctors contradicted the post-mortem report and insisted that the newly-wed woman died in the hospital before the body was handed over to the woman's husband.
"The woman was brought to us with issues such as difficulty in breathing, vomiting and high fever. Her lungs were not functioning and there was a severe deficiency of oxygen in her body. We then shifted her to the Intensive Care Unit on the evening of February 23. We kept her on oxygen and gave her antibiotics," Dr. Mehroz Alam, assistant professor, critical care department, said.
The doctors also claimed that the woman's husband was given constant updates on the developments and deteriorating health condition of the patient.
"She was under our observation since February 23 and we gave her heavy antibiotics since the infection had spread to her lungs. We kept her husband informed about the developments and all procedures were done with his consent," Dr Singh added.
He further said: "On the night of February 26, we carried out CPR as we couldn't feel her pulse despite heavy medication. At 11.45pm, we declared her dead after trying all methods."
The doctors also denied that the patient was sedated or heavily drugged. "We just gave her antibiotics. She was not sedated with any other pill," said Dr Singh.