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Indian Woman Mistakenly Declared Dead, Burned on Funeral Pyre

24-year-old Rachna Sisodia, a student and newlywed, was tragically pronounced dead of a lung infection at a hospital in northern India on February 25. Even more tragically, there are claims the hospital declared her dead by mistake, and she was still alive when cremated the next day.

According to the UK SunRachna’s 23-year-old husband Devesh Chaudhary took possession of her body with some friends and quickly arranged for an early-morning funeral pyre, but someone discovered she was still alive and dragged her off the pyre during the service:

A postmortem report suggested she may have been alive at the time the fire started.

It detailed that there were charred particles in her windpipe and lungs suggesting she may have been breathing when she was being cremated.

Police spokesman Rajesh Pandey, who explained the doctors’ verdict, said: “This happens when someone is burnt alive. The particles go inside with the breath.

“If a person is dead, such particles cannot reach the lungs and the windpipe. So, the doctors concluded that the woman was burnt alive on the pyre.”

The UK Independent cites Indian media reports that it was the police who pulled Rachna from the pyre after they were contacted by her family.

The UK Daily Mail said the verdict of doctors who examined her body was that “shock caused by being burned alive” was the final cause of death.

The story grows even more convoluted and sinister in the Daily Mail’s account:

In another development, the dead woman’s maternal uncle Kailash Singh has reportedly accused her husband and ten others of sexually assaulting and killing her.

Police are taking the accusations seriously but all the men have disappeared, they say.

However, the doctors at Sharda maintain that Rachna did in fact die at their hospital and post-mortem doctor Pankaj Mishra says he cannot even be sure that the body he examined was that of Rachna, due to the extent of the burns on it.

Devesh told local media, from an unknown location, that his in-laws were trying to frame him and his relatives in a bid to acquire his property.

The Times of India reports Rachna had burns across 70 percent of her body by the time she was pulled from the funeral pyre. Family members described her as effectively running away from home to live with Devesh.

Hospital records indicate she was admitted with “fever and shivering, breathlessness, abdominal pain, palpitation and loose motions on February 23,” and then died two days later from “cardiorespiratory arrest and acute respiratory distress syndrome.”

The Independent reports the hospital stands by its verdict: “The patient was brought in extremely critical condition and our doctors tried their best to save her. We stick to our stand that the patient had died due to lung infection on Sunday night.”

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