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The sight of a corpse leaves many with a palpitating heart. We think it is very difficult to be in a morgue handling the dead day in and out. Death, for man, has always been difficult to come to term with. And we all want to stay away from a mortuary. But “science”, says Dr. Sunay Kumar, senior resident doctor, forensic medicine at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, “has proved that the fear of dead is a misplaced notion.”

“This sealed room has all the skeletal remains of the Nithari serial killings case. It is critical until the trial goes on”, says Dr Adarsh Kumar, Asst. Professor, forensic medicine at, AIIMS. A dead body is as important as those alive to ascertain the cause of death. When there is no evidence, a dead body is the greatest witness of the dead.

Autopsy is what helps to know the reasons behind the death. The forensic experts in the mortuary along with their toxicology counterparts make a dead tell the tale of their death, of their claim for justice and peace and the pain and frustration they underwent while alive.

But a lot of facilities and care is required and the results can be, at times, startling. Dr. D. N. Bhardwaj, additional professor of forensic science and toxicology at AIIMS, recalling one of the autopsy says, “Everyone believed the death to be a murder, but it was a road accident, where the person was hit by a truck.”

Dead bodies can be of great research value. Organ donation especially eye donation is another thing being actively promoted. Dr. Adarsh Kumar, assistant professor of forensic medicine at AIIMS says, “There can be no substitute of a dead body for research purpose. And there are a few NGOs who are promoting contribution of dead bodies.”

Even in a hospital mortuaries are the most ignored places. Discussing the problems of mortuaries Dr. Kumar says that good infrastructure is limited to metros. Even at AIIMS, the lack of enough hands does affect the quality of autopsy. Another major reason is the lack of enough remuneration. “Forensic experts are the highest paid people in Australia and England.”

Dr. Sunay Mahesh, senior resident, forensic medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi says, “the stigma attached to this department is another major reason why the department struggles for enough manpower.

But apart from monetary consideration, the stigma attached to the job is especially for the 4th grade staffs who actually manhandles the body is significant.

“Life is a great surprise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.

Wrote Vladimir Nabokov in his 1962 novel ‘Pale Fire’

The obviousness and the triviality of death is enough to recognise that misconceptions about dead be removed.