Whenever a patient dies, drivers of those micro buses rush towards the relatives, because whoever contacts first, he would be selected to carry the dead body in his microbus. No other driver of any other microbus will have that right. Even the relatives of the dead person will not be able to choose any other microbus they wish. Photo: BP

Sarker Shariful Islam, Rajshahi
Holding the body of dead patients hostage, a vested syndicate of microbus operators is conducting brisk business at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital at the cost of
the unbearable sufferings of the
relatives.
The allegation has been raised by a number of victims after being harassed inhumanly in present of the hospital authorities and law enforcers.
They said whenever a patient dies in the hospital, the drivers or the helpers of these microbuses rush towards the relatives of the deceased. Whichever driver or helper is able to contact the relative of the dead first, he is ‘the winner’ who will carry the dead body in his microbus. No other driver of any other microbus will have the right to carry that dead body. Even the relatives of the dead person will not be able to choose any other microbus as they wish.
Dozens of ramshackle microbuses waiting in rows is a typical scene in front of the emergency department of the hospital to carry dead bodies from various wards of the hospital to long-distance destinations.
Local and hospital sources said two persons named Rabbul and Jony were the masterminds behind the syndicate. Several victims also attested the allegation.
A woman named Mousumi Begum of Durgaha village under Durgapur upazila died at RMCH in the early hours of Saturday. Her house is not more than 20 kilometers from Rajshahi city, and the microbus fare in carrying the dead body to her village should not surpass Tk 1,000 to 1,500. But, the syndicate demanded Tk 7,000 fare to carry the dead body to her village. Relatives of the deceased frantically tried to settle a bargain with the drivers of the microbuses, but they remained obstinate and threatened her relatives not to carry her body in other vehicles other than the dilapidated microbuses.
Shariful Islam, relative of Mousumi said they tried to carry the dead body of Mousumi to her village home in a vehicle hired from outside RMCH, but the syndicate of drivers at RMCH emergency area did not allow that vehicle to enter the hospital premises and threatened the relatives. As a result, Shariful was forced to have the body carried in a microbus from the row.
Anwar Hossain, another patient from Kushtia Islamic University area died at RMCH recently. His relatives were forced to pay Tk 12,000 to carry his dead body, whereas the regular fare of a microbus from Rajshahi to Kushtia is only Taka 4000, thus the micro-syndicate collected Tk 8000 more to carry the dead body home.
Monirul Islam, relative of the deceased Anowar Hossain said, at first the micro-syndicate members demanded Taka 15,000 to carry the dead body to Kushtia but after hectic bargain, they agreed to carry it for Tk 12,000. Monirul further said, on duty police at the emergency department of the hospital might be involved with the syndicate because they did not take any step to prevent the microbus driver from charging exorbitant fare even after complaining.
According to sources, nearly 50 ramshackle, unfit microbuses are used to carry dead bodies from RMCH.
Rabbul and Jony were owners of most of these vehicles. Due to the influence of Rabbul and Jony, no other vehicles from outside RMCH are allowed to enter the hospital to carry the dead bodies.
Rabbul in this connection said, there is no syndicate of microbuses at RMCH. The fact is not all drivers agree to carry dead bodies in their vehicles. The drivers engaged in carrying the dead bodies also charge an increased fare.
Rafiqul Islam, in charge of RMCH police box said the police has no role in the carrying of dead body from the hospital because the bargain is settled outside the hospital premises, yet if some attendants or relatives of dead persons complain to them, they warn them and take steps against the drivers.