Block cremation of COVID-19 victims and face jail term

Block cremation of coronavirus victims in Tamil Nadu and face jail term

The government’s move comes exactly a week after a group of protesters blocked the burial of Dr. Simon Hercules

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With incidents of disruptions reported at last rites of COVID-19 patients, Tamil Nadu Government on Sunday promulgated an ordinance making blocking or attempting to block cremation of patients dying from “notified disease” a punishable offence with a jail term of up to 3 years.

Tamil Nadu, which had announced COVID-19 as a “notified disease” last month, said attempts to block or blocking last rites in a “dignified manner” would attract jail term under Section 74 of the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act, that deals with disposal of bodies of persons dying while suffering from a notified disease.

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The state government said the ordinance was brought to prevent such incidents and make it a punishable offence to take stringent action against those who block or attempt to block last rites of patients.

“Under the ordinance, those attempting or blocking to attempt the last rites of persons dying from notified disease will face a minimum of one year to a maximum of three years in jail,” a statement from the government said.

 

The government’s move comes exactly a week after a group of protesters blocked the burial of Dr. Simon Hercules, a neurosurgeon who died of COVID-19, here due to misconception that burial of such patients would spread the virus.

A similar protest took place in Chennai on April 13 when hospital authorities went to a crematorium for the last rites of a deceased doctor from Andhra Pradesh, who died at a private hospital here. The violence at the burial of Dr. Simon – his body was buried by his colleague Dr. Pradeep Kumar in the dead of the night – has prompted the government to bring an ordinance to put an end to such incidents.

Dr. Simon, Managing Director of New Hope Medical Centre here, passed away on April 19 and could not be given a proper burial due to protests from locals.

After locals attacked the tiny gathering at the crematorium in Vellangadu near upscale Anna Nagar to bid goodbye to the doctor, a surgeon who had worked with the doctor took up the job on himself and buried his colleague with his bare hands in the dead of the night.

“We (doctors) are humans too. This should not happen to anybody. The doctor was buried with nobody around him. Just me and two ward boys from our hospital were there. It is said that a man who served the society and lived for it went down with just three people around him,” Kumar, Orthopaedic, and Arthroscopy Surgeon, had told DH.