11 cops on 24-hour duty to protect Pathankot attackers' bodies
Pathankot: Eleven policemen have been on duty round-the-clock at the civil hospital morgue here for the past almost three months to protect the bodies of four terrorists killed after they attacked the Air Force Base here in January.
An NIA official said the hospital authorities have been asked to preserve the bodies as they are ‘evidence for us’, and this has kept the policemen on their toes.
The visiting JIT from Pakistan did not examine the bodies today, officials said.
"It has been 80 days now. I cannot afford to lower guard even for a minute," constable Dalbir Singh, whose job, along with his colleagues', is to protect the morgue in the only government hospital here, said.
Head constable Vinod Kumar is on alert whenever anybody approaches the morgue.
"We have clear instructions not to allow anyone near the room. If terrorists could come till the airbase, then this place cannot be beyond their reach. Our senior officers conduct daily rounds to check on the bodies and a van from the police control room is also stationed near the boundary wall every night," Kumar said.
The terrorists were eliminated in a counteroffensive by security forces on January 2. The bodies were handed over to the hospital on January 7, the hospital authorities said.
Senior medical officer at the hospital, Dr Bhupinder Singh said, "Since we got the bodies four-five days after the encounter, there were some changes in them."
They are being preserved in deep freezers at temperatures between minus three and four degrees Celsius, he said.
But with only two freezers available, two bodies share space in each compartment.
The bodies have started to decompose, the policemen on duty confide. It is a challenge to keep them intact as grenade explosion had also caused considerable damage to them, they say.
A policeman posted at the morgue said unbearable stench comes out whenever power goes off.
"It becomes difficult to even stand here. When there is no electricity, the freezer stops working. The ice melts and stinking water comes out. Forget the stink it is also harmful for health as it contains hazardous fluid of the dead bodies," the policeman said.
When the bodies were brought they were covered with dry blood and had bullet holes all over, said Chaman Lal, the attendant at the morgue.
Lal has been assisting doctors in conducting autopsies at the hospital since 1991.
There are maggots all over the bodies, he said. "I have to clean them at regular intervals. It has been so many days, it's difficult to clean the maggots," Lal added.