Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Tuesday regretted the episodes where locals opposed the burial of doctors who died of COVID-19 in the city and urged everyone to respect the dedication of the health workers.
He also equated doctors, besides other frontline workers in the battle against coronavirus, to God for the "selfless" services being rendered by them.
Due protocol was being followed in the burial of those who died of the infection, he said.
"It is sad the burial of doctors was opposed at a time when (doctors) are fighting to protect us against coronavirus," he wrote on his official twitter handle, @CMOTamilNadu.
"We all should respect their dedication and act with humanity," he added.
In two separate incidents last week, two doctors died of COVID-19 in the city but locals protested against their burial fearing the spread of the pandemic.
On both occasions, the bodies were buried elsewhere after officials could not perform the formalities in the originally selected localities.
Incidentally, on Sunday night an orthopaedic surgeon had to bury his associate, a neurosurgeon who died of COVID-19, in the middle of the night using his bare hands and a shovel at a crematorium with the help of just two hospital ward boys after the undertakers fled when a mob, protesting the interment, attacked them using bricks, stones, bottles and sticks and chased them away.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Mr Palaniswami said frontline workers in the battle against COVID-19 such as doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and police personnel were engaged in "selfless" duty.
"The whole country is praising them for their work. I consider these, who are working to protect lives, equal to God," he said in the statement.
He further said the government has ordered that the burial or cremation of people who had died of coronavirus be done with "due protection" but expressed regret over the incidents where people protested against such formalities for the deceased doctors.
Assuring his government's "total support" to such frontline workers, he said it will take due steps to ensure such incidents do not repeat and asked them not to have any fears.
Meanwhile, City Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan described yesterday's incident as "inhuman violence" and condemned it.
As many as 21 people have been arrested in connection with the incident and action will be taken against them under the stringent Goondas Act, he said.
"Corporation and Health department are doing the burial as per World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. Doctors and experts have said there is no possibility of spread (from a dead body)," he told reporters.
He warned that police would take "severe action" against those preventing the burial, saying even Goondas Act could be invoked against them.