Health officials cremating the body of a coronavirus victim in Jammu on Thursday.(AP Photo)
Health officials cremating the body of a coronavirus victim in Jammu on Thursday.(AP Photo)

Locals oppose cremation of coronavirus positive former special bureau officer

On Wednesday night, residents of Jogi Gate area led by councillors of ward numbers 6 and 7 raised objection to the cremation of the 70-year-old saying that it would spread the infection in their area. Later, the body was cremated at Shastri Nagar crematorium
Hindustan Times, Jammu | By Ravi Krishnan Khajuria, Jammu
UPDATED ON MAY 15, 2020 11:30 AM IST

Administrative inertia coupled with resistance by locals aggravated the miseries of the family of a 70-year-old retired special bureau officer, who died of coronavirus on Wednesday.

The family of the retired special bureau official had to run from pillar to post for cremating his mortal remains.

A senior doctor of Government Medical College and Hospital, Jammu, on the condition of anonymity, said, “After residents led by councillors of ward numbers 6 and 7 didn’t allow the deceased’s cremation at Jogi Gate crematorium on Wednesday night fearing that it would spread the infection in the area, the body was brought back to the mortuary of the hospital. On Thursday, it was taken to another facility in Shastri Nagar and finally cremated by the hospital staff in the presence of two family members of the deceased, including his son-in-law.”

However, at Shastri Nagar crematorium also, the locals objected to the cremation, but the district officials and police intervened in time and the body was cremated under the supervision of a naib tehsildar, the senior doctor said.

‘CREMATION DONE AFTER CHIEF SECRETARY’S INTERVENTION’

Sources said it was only after chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam’s intervention that the cremation of the former special bureau official took place.

The son-in-law of the deceased said, “We still have not been given a medical report mentioning the cause of death of my father-in-law. I doubt he may have died of some other reason and not coronavirus.” “We had a harrowing time in cremating him. A septuagenarian, who served the special bureau and worked for the country, deserved a dignified cremation and for that matter, whosoever dies, has the right of a decent burial or cremation,” he said.

‘HOSPITAL DENIED AMBULANCE AT FIRST’

The deceased’s son-in-law also cornered the hospital, saying that they initially refused to provide them an ambulance and their staff for the cremation.

The hospital authorities, however, rubbished the allegations. “The elderly was brought to the emergency on May 12 at 7:20pm. He was immediately examined by the doctor on duty and declared brought dead. Since his attendants suspected his death due to the coronavirus, on their insistence, the body was shifted to mini mortuary. His nasopharyngeal swab was taken for the virus and sent for testing on priority basis. The test was reported positive on Wednesday,” they said. The hospital management also claimed that they immediately provided an ambulance to the family for transporting the body to the cremation ground.

Local Congress councillor from ward number 7, Ritu Choudhary, said, “Given the magnitude of the infection and ever increasing death count, the administration should identify a proper place for the cremation of those dying of coronavirus. Earlier, a 61-year-old woman from Udhampur, who also succumbed to the coronavirus, was also cremated at Jogi Gate. At that time, I had pacified my people telling them that it was a government decision.”

“It’s a densely populated locality and people are afraid of infection,” she said. The BJP leader also appealed to the government to inform the elected councillors in advance before permitting the cremation of any coronavirus victim in their respective areas.

It was the second death due to the coronavirus in Jammu region and 11th in Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, repeated calls and messages to the Jammu district commissioner and senior police officers didn’t evoke any response.

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