A 65-year-old Muslim man from suburban Malad in Mumbai, who died of coronavirus infection, was cremated after the trustees of a cemetery denied permission to bury his body there, his family members alleged on Thursday.
The incident took place on Wednesday.
The patient, a resident of Collector Compound in Malwani, died at a civic-run hospital in Jogeshwari East early on Wednesday.
One of the family members of the deceased alleged that when his body was taken to Malad Malwadni Kabrastan, its trustees denied burial "as he was coronvirus positive".
"This was despite the local civic authorities giving permission for the burial at 4 am," he said.
The local police and a politician then tried to intervene and urged the trustees to allow the burial, but the latter did not budge, the family member said.
Thereafter, some social workers intervened and requested a nearby Hindu crematorium to cremate the body. As they agreed to do so, the man was finally cremated at 10 am.
Talking to PTI, Maharashtra minister and Malwani MLA, Aslam Shaikh, said, "As per the government guidelines, Muslim COVID-19 victims should be buried at a cemetery, which is closest to the place where the patient died."
"But in this case, the family of the deceased took his body directly to Malad Malwani Kabrastan without informing anyone, including trustees of the cemetery, and then demanded his burial," he said.
"Strict action should be taken against the civic staffs, who brought the body to the cemetery despite knowing the guidelines," he said, adding that a day before this incident, another coronavirus victim had been buried at that cemetery.
The son of the deceased said, "After my father was declared dead at the hospital no one came to help me. I kept sitting beside the body outside the hospital for more than three hours."
"We wanted to bury his body at the Malad-Malwani Kabrastan. But when we reached there, the trustees of the cemetery refused to allow the burial saying he was a COVID-19 patient," he said.
"After the intervention by the police and other authorities, the body was cremated at a nearby Hindu shamshan bhoomi (crematorium)," he added.
Local Samajwadi Party corporator Rukhsana Siddique said, "When the civic staffers know that as per the circular, a COVID-19 victim should be buried at a nearby cemetery, then why died they took the body to Malad (West) although he died at a hospital in Jogeshwari (East)?"
The corporator, however, expressed shock over the denial of burial of the body at the cemetery.