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"The corpse tells no lies. It speaks a different language and I understand it." These lines don't sound as dramatic when Dr Bharat Bajpai, who has conducted more than 5,000 autopsies over last six years, says them.
The medical officer-in-charge of the Forensic Medicine Department at the Govind Ballabh Pant district hospital in Indore has an unusual achievement. The 51-year-old has not taken a day off since November 6, 2006, when he conducted the first post mortem in a ramshackle mortuary of the district hospital. The achievement entered the Limca Book of Records last year.
The hospital started conducting autopsies because Indore's M Y Hospital, the largest government hospital in the region, was getting burdened between 2,000 and 2,500 cases every year.
Bajpai, who had conducted more than 5,000 autopsies in M Y Hospital since 2000, was shifted to the district hospital in November 2006 and a small two-room unit that used to be a urinal once upon a time became the post mortem room. A dairy was converted into the district hospital in 1988. The makeshift facility in the hospital now caters to cases from more than a dozen police stations in Indore, where incidence of crime is very high.
Bajpai, his assistant Santosh Vankar and sweeper Gopal Shinde comprised the staff of the forensic department and the trio worked without taking a single day's leave and entered the record books.
While Vankar and Shinde have taken leave since then to meet familial obligations, Bajpai has continued uninterrupted. "Bodies are never impure. Every religion respects them. Even during wars bodies of soldiers get the same respect," he said.
There are established forensic experts in government hospitals in Madhya Pradesh who have conducted many more autopsies than Bajpai. He is different in that he is doing it single-handedly. Bajpai has not received any extra benefits for what he calls his sense of duty, but his effort was mentioned on the floor of the Assembly.