A video shows the body being transported to the crematorium in a JCB machine in Andhra Pradesh.
The body of a coronavirus patient, a 72-year-old man, in Andhra Pradesh was shifted to the crematorium from his house in an earthmover, causing uproar from political leaders belonging to the Opposition in the state.
Two officials have been suspended after the incident came to light.
A former municipality employee, who had tested positive for COVID-19 during a door-to-door health survey, died at his house in Palasa town of Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh.
A video shows the body being transported from his house to the crematorium in a JCB machine, by officials wearing personal protective equipment. The body can be seen placed in the front part of the machine.
The man had died at home and when neighbours raised concerns about the body being a risk to the neighbourhood, his granddaughter, a government volunteer, called the municipal authorities and the body was shifted.
In Udayapuram area of #Palasa#Srikakulam#AP, body of 72-yr-old man who had tested positive for #COVID19 during house-to-house survey & died at home, was shifted to crematorium in #JCB machine; after uproar, municipal commissioner & sanitary inspector suspended @firstname.lastname@example.org/DbMPCIKRqL— Uma Sudhir (@umasudhir) June 27, 2020
On learning about the incident, the chief minister's office called the handling of the incident "an inhumane act" and said necessary protocols for shifting the victim were not followed.
Andhra Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy condemned the incident and said strict action will be taken against those responsible. "It is inhuman and protocols have already been clarified on how to deal with such cases," the Chief Minister's Office said.
The Andhra Pradesh government has ordered a probe. Srikakulam district collector J Nivas ordered suspension of Palasa municipal commissioner Nagendra Kumar and sanitary inspector N Rajiv.
Telugu Desam Party chief and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also condemned the incident and tweeted: "Utterly shocked to see the dead bodies of coronavirus victims wrapped in plastic and transported on JCBs and tractors. They deserve respect and dignity even in death. Shame on YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's government for this inhumane treatment."
In a similar incident on June 24 in the same district, a woman who died of COVID-19 was taken to the crematorium on a tractor in Sompeta town.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, many incidents have been reported from different states of India where proper procedure was not followed while handling bodies of patients.
India's total of coronavirus cases has crossed the five lakh mark after the country reported its highest single-day spike of over 17,000 cases on Friday. The overall death count climbed to 15,301 with 407 new fatalities.