Bombay HC directs BMC to reopen Bandra cemetery for burial of Covid-19 victims
The directive came after advocate Pratap Nimbalkar, who represented the Navpada Masjid, Bandra and Santacruz Golibar Dargah Trust, which manages the private Muslim cemetery, pointed out that some local residents had put up locks on the gate of the cemetery.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 00:17 IST
The Bombay high court on Monday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to remove locks put up by some local residents on the gates of Navpada Kokani Muslim Kabrastan at Bandra west and to make the cemetery, closed by locals who were opposed to burial of bodies of Covid-19 patients there, available for burial.
Justice BP Colabawalla on Monday refused to interfere with the April 9 order of the BMC, which identified the private Muslim burial ground as one of the sites for burial of Covid-19 patients. Four local residents had filed a petition challenging the civic order.
The directive came after advocate Pratap Nimbalkar, who represented the Navpada Masjid, Bandra and Santacruz Golibar Dargah Trust, which manages the private Muslim cemetery, pointed out that some local residents had put up locks on the gate of the cemetery.
Nimbalkar pointed out that on April 13 some locals created a ruckus over the civic body’s order of April 9 identifying the cemetery as one of the sites for burial of Covid-19 victims, when the body of a 63-year-old Muslim who died due to Covid-19 infection, was brought for burial at the ground. Some senior police officers tried to intervene, but failed to pacify the locals and eventually the body was buried somewhere else.
Nimbalkar added that the trust had taken all precautions and identified isolated and secluded spots for burial of Covid-19 patients, but despite that the locals were not allowing burial at the site and therefore urged the court to direct BMC to reopen the burial ground. Justice Colabawalla accordingly directed the civic body to reopen the cemetery and granted it liberty to take the help of the local police, if necessary.
The four petitioners said that there are three interconnected Muslim cemeteries at the site and all of them are at the heart of Bandra West and are surrounded by thickly populated residential areas.
The petitioners said that on March 30, BMC had decided to cremate bodies of all Covid-19 patients at the nearest crematorium, irrespective of their religion. “The decision was taken as the burial grounds in Mumbai are in densely populated localities with high chances of contamination in the residential areas nearby,” said their petition.
They added that the order dated April 9 was completely contrary to the March 30 decision and therefore prayed for an order restraining the civic body from burying any Covid-19 patients at the three Muslim cemeteries.
Justice Colabawalla, however, refused to interfere with the latest civic body order on burial of Covid-19 victims.