The Tamil Nadu government has brought an ordinance to ensure those who die of COVID-19 get a dignified burial or cremation. The executive order has made blocking or attempting to block funerals of coronavirus victims a criminal offence. Those who engage in such activities will be liable for a jail term upto 3 years.
Last week, a surgeon had to dig grave for his colleague- who died of coronavirus- with the help of two ward boys at a cemetery in Chennai, after a mob attacked their ambulance to block the burial at two cemeteries.
Dr Simon Hercules, who contracted COVID-19 reportedly from his patients, was being taken to a cemetery when a mob threw bricks, stones, bottles and sticks and chased them away despite the presence of police. Two ambulance drivers and few corporation health officials were injured in the attack.
Recounting the horror, Dr K Pradeep Kumar, an orthopaedic and arthroscopy surgeon, had told NDTV "The two ambulance drivers were bleeding as Dr Simon's body lay behind".
He added: "The policemen were reluctant to help. It's understandable. They did not have personal protective equipment. None of us know to operate an earth mover. The ward boys and I did the whole thing. I buried with my own hand using the shovel there".
The Madras High Court, which had taken up the case on its own, had observed that Dr Simon was deprived of his right to a dignified burial and had issued a notice to the state government.
Chief Minister E Palaniswami had announced Rs 50 Lakh compensation for those who die while battling the disease. He had also assured that such people will get a dignified funeral.
Tamil Nadu has so far reported 1,821 coronavirus cases, with nearly half of the cases coming from five cities - Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tirupur and Salem. An intense lockdown has been enforced in these cities.