Facing flak, the West Bengal government on Saturday dismissed as a "one-off incident" the contents of a video showing decomposed bodies being loaded into a van by the city civic body in daylight and said it 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.
"Government of West Bengal condemns untruths," it said.
Dhankhar had expressed concern over the video, which had gone viral on Thursday. He had sought a report on it from the state home secretary.
The city police and the state health department had called the video a "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 novel 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 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 deceased, disposal of dead bodies etc," the West Bengal home department tweeted.
"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 Hon'ble Governor," it added.
It condemned the "untruths" and said, "Decontexualising the incident and projecting an 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".