Mangaluru: Unclaimed bodies pile up as police struggle to trace kin

10:41 AM Dec 27, 2021 | Team Udayavani |

Mangaluru: Tracing the kin of the unknown dead bodies found in the areas surrounding Mangaluru city is a huge challenge for the district police here. Many bodies are being buried in unmarked graves.


Despite leaving no stone unturned, police say it is difficult to find the relatives of those who died at public places such as railway stations, bus stands, maidans, sea, river beds, etc., and those who died at the Wenlock district hospital. On average, 10 to 12 bodies are found every month at Mangaluru South (Pandeshwar) and Mangaluru North (Port) police stations. The families of more than half of them are not found.

Many don’t want the bodies:

Due to the efforts put in, many bodies from Dakshina Kannada as well as places outside the district and states were identified. While in most cases, the relatives opt to take the mortal remains to their hometown for last rites, some conduct the funeral in the city. But in many cases, relatives show reluctance to take possession of the bodies of the dead.  After the Covid pandemic, the cases of unwanted bodies ignored by their next of kin has increased. Many bodies are buried in graves by the police themselves as relatives did not want them, police said.

More than 90 untraced every year:


In 2021, out of the 30 unidentified bodies found in Mangaluru South police station limits less than 40 percent have been traced and handed over to their kin.  In 2020, out of the 38 unidentified bodies that were found, only 7 men and one woman’s body heirs were found. At the same time, Mangaluru North police station gets about 4 to 5 unidentified bodies each month totaling up to  60 unidentified bodies every year. Of these, half remain unclaimed with their kin remaining untraceable.

The police are making all possible efforts to trace the identities of the persons by publishing unidentified bodies in the media, sending information to all police stations, installing banners, checking missing cases at other stations, etc. Despite this many still remain unknown.

Lack of space in mortuary :

Usually, depending on the condition of the mortal remains, unidentified bodies are kept in the morgue for a week waiting for the kin to arrive. If it is in a decomposed state, the body may be disposed of within 2-3 days. Sometimes, there is a shortage of space in the cold storage as other bodies have to be kept in the mortuary cold storage, said Mangaluru Police Commissioner N. Shashi Kumar.

Burial mandatory :

Unidentified bodies have to be buried in the mud for legal reasons. If the next of kin come looking, the bodies will be exhumed as per legal procedures and handed over to them.

(Translated from an original article in Kannada by Santosh Bollettu)


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