Screengrab from the video allegedly shot at the Garia Adi Mahashamshan in south Kolkata.
The West Bengal government today said the "one-off incident" in which decomposed bodies were seen being loaded into a van at a crematorium in southern Kolkata has no links with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Attempts to "decontextualise the incident" and project it as a part of the pandemic despite the explanatory communiques to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar "adversely affected the social mind", the state health department tweeted.
The incident came to light when a video surfaced on social media on Thursday prompting the governor to tweet his anguish at the "disposal of dead bodies with heartless, indescribable insensitivity" and forcing the authorities to issue clarifications.
"Government of West Bengal condemns untruths," the health department said.
The city police and the state health department have called the video "fake" and asserted that the bodies were unclaimed ones from a government hospital morgue.
The video had also shown protests by locals at Garia, a suburb in the southern fringes of the city where the incident had allegedly taken place, who claimed that the bodies were those of coronavirus victims.
The government said that all forms of transparency had been maintained and opportunities were given to the bereaved relatives to show their last respects to the dead and for the disposal of their bodies amid the pandemic.
"GOWB (government of West Bengal) respects the credo of dignity at death and, while handling the COVID pandemic, it has espoused the principle by laying down transparent procedures regarding disclosure of facts, opportunities given to bereaved relatives for showing last respect to the dead, disposal of dead bodies etc," the state home department tweeted today.
"The recent misinformation drive to project an isolated incident of a particular agency's handling of some unidentified and decomposed dead bodies lying (post accidents, etc) in a morgue has no relationship whatsoever with the current pandemic. This has been communicated in writing and in person by most senior state officials even to Governor," it added.
It said "decontexualising the incident and projecting a one-off incident on the pandemic canvas, despite explanatory communiques, adversely impacts the social mind, demotivates public administration, denigrates frontline public health workers, hamstrings further streamlining of all relevant procedure especially at a time when the entire state is fighting the twin blows of COVID and Cyclone Amphan."
The opposition CPI(M) and BJP had criticised the state government and alleged that the "video clip is a proof of the ruling TMC trying to hide the actual number of COVID-19 deaths in the state."