Dead Bangladeshi man kept in mortuary for over 2 years by 2 'wives'

He died over two and a half years ago but his funeral has not been performed yet. His body is kept at the mortuary of Dhaka Medical College.

It's because two women -- one Hindu and the other Muslim -- have been fighting a legal battle to establish their claim on the body. Both of them claim to be his wife and that the man was following any of the two religions.

And now, whoever wins the battle will get the body for the funeral, said police.

The man, Khokon alias Khoka Chowdhury alias Raju Chowdhury, was the owner of Capital Super Market situated on over one and a half bighas near Farmgate in the capital.

Talking to The Daily Star recently, some of the shopkeepers at the three-storey market said apart from the dispute over the religion, his properties could also be a reason for the crisis surfaced after his death.

"It's simple because whoever wins the case would become the custodian of his properties," one of them said, adding that Khokon's brothers and other family members were taking the earnings from his businesses.

Aged 68, Khokon died on June 26, 2014, after being treated at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Birdem Hospital for 11 days. After his death, a woman, Mira Nandi, went to the hospital authorities and claimed the body for cremation, saying she was his wife. Khokon's brother Babul Nandi was also there.

However, the other woman, Habiba Akhter, a college teacher, appeared there and said the body should be buried as Khokon, according to her, had converted to Islam decades ago. She also wanted to take the body, saying Khokon married her back in the 1980s.

Mira, however, rejected the claim, saying Khokon and she were always together.

As the matter could not be settled even three days after Khokon's death, Ramna police went to the hospital and tried to intervene, but could not come to a conclusion.

Over the same week, the women and the hospital authorities filed several general diaries (GD) with Ramna Police Station. Later, the matter ended up at a Dhaka court.

The case was transferred twice. Currently, a third court is hearing it, said Babul.

Meanwhile, the bills at the Birdem hospital was almost Tk 3 lakh, which has not yet been paid, said an employee there, adding that it would be paid by the one winning the case.

The body was later taken to the DMC morgue from the hospital.

"Khokon was Hindu by birth and Mira was his wife. But he converted to Islam in 1980. He married me four years later," Habiba told The Daily Star recently.

Khokon's younger brother Babul, however, rejected her claim. "He never converted to any other religion. He always used to live with his wife Mira and their children".

As the lawsuit drags on, the body remains as a burden on the morgue, said a DMC staff, adding that the mortuary freezer can store only 20 bodies at a time. Often, almost half of those remain out of order, he added.

Habiba said she visits Khokon's body at the morgue at least twice a month. It was decomposing and hardly recognisable, she added.