Blocking cremation of COVID-19 victims punishable in TN

Blocking burial or cremation of victims of coronavirus to attract 3 years jail term in Tamil Nadu

Blocking the 'dignified' burial or cremation of people, who had died of a notified disease in Tamil Nadu will now attract a three-year prison term, an ordinance promulgated by the state government said.

The move comes in the wake of public protests against the burial of two doctors who died of COVID-19 in the city recently, with one of them turning violent where agitators even attacked health workers and civic body staff.

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According to the ordinance, blocking or attempting to block the "dignified burial or cremation of those who had died of a notified disease" has been made a criminal offence, an official release here said. Under section 74 of The Tamil Nadu Public Health Act, 1939, those indulging in such acts will have to face a minimum jail term of one year while the maximum award will be three years, the release added. The offence will also carry a fine, it said but did not specify.

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In two separate incidents recently, two doctors died of coronavirus in the city but locals protested their burial on grounds of fears of the spread of the pandemic. On both occasions, the mortal remains were buried elsewhere after officials could not perform the formalities in the originally selected localities.

Last week, an orthopaedic surgeon had to bury his associate, a neurosurgeon who died of COVID-19, in the middle of the night using bare hands and a shovel at a crematorium with the help of two hospital ward boys after the undertakers fled when a mob protesting the internment, attacked and chased them away. Over two dozen people have been arrested in connection with the incident, even as the City Police had warned of invoking the stringent Goondas Act against those preventing burial or victims of COVID-19.