AGENCIES, Mumbai: This may sound strange, but it’s true. A young man from Mumbai’s suburban Malad discovered the hard way that completing funeral rights has also been impacted by the coronavirus stigma and territorial authority.
The muslim man’s 65-year-old man, who died of coronavirus infection, had to be cremated after the trustees of a cemetery denied permission to bury his body on Wednesday. Family members said the patient, a resident of Collector Compound in Malwani, died at a civic-run hospital in Jogeshwari East early on Wednesday.
When the remains was taken to Malad Malwadni Kabrastan (burial ground) over 5km away, its trustees denied burial “as he was coronavirus positive”. “This was despite the local civic authorities giving permission for the burial at 4.00 am,” he said.
The local police and a politician urged the trustees to allow the burial, but the latter did not budge. Seeing no way out, local social workers intervened and requested a nearby crematorium to cremate the body. As they agreed to do so, the man was finally cremated at 10 am.
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.
“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 did they take the body to Malad (West) although he died at a hospital in Jogeshwari (East)?” The corporator also expressed shock over the denial of burial of the body at the cemetery.