CHENNAI: At least 20 people have been arrested in south India for violently preventing the burial of a prominent doctor who died from COVID-19 complications.
The renowned Dr Simon Hercules was not given a dignified burial as his friends and family were attacked on Sunday night when they took his body to a burial ground in Chennai.
One of his friends had to quietly bury him in the early hours of Monday without any family members present. He said the neurosurgeon did not deserve this end. “He was not shown even basic humanity. Even his wife and son couldn’t be there to say goodbye,” Dr Pradeep told a local news website.
Local media reported that a mob of about 20 people attacked Dr Hercules’ friends and family with sticks and rods. Two ambulance drivers were also injured in the incident. Police said the people lived near the burial ground and were worried that burying COVID-19 patients in the vicinity would spread the virus.
Dr Pradeep said that Dr Hercules continued to serve during the pandemic instead of staying home and most likely got the infection from one of his patients.
Tamil Nadu state Health Minister C Vijayabaskar condemned the incident. “What happened to that doctor is condemnable. Such things should not happen in the future,” he said.
The Indian federal health ministry guidelines said that burying the bodies of coronavirus victims is safe if all precautions are followed.
These include instructions for how bodies should be handled and disposed off and defines what kind of rituals can be carried out. Many experts have said that people need to be more aware about the burial rules for COVID-19 patients.