Octogenarian COVID-19 victim’s body cremated in Kerala amid protests from local residents

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Police registered offence against local BJP councillor TN Harikumar and 30 residents in the area under the Kerala Epidemics Diseases Ordinance 2020

Kerala’s Kottayam town on Sunday witnessed strong protest from local resident after the district authorities decided to cremate the body of an octogenarian man who died from COVID-19 on July 24.

The body of Ouseph George was finally cremated around midnight at the Muttambalam electric crematorium in the heart of Kottayam town amid heavy police presence.

Meanwhile, the police registered offence against local BJP corporator TN Harikumar and 30 residents in the area under the Kerala Epidemics Diseases Ordinance 2020 for preventing health authorities from cremating the body.

George, 83, succumbed to the coronavirus pandemic late on Friday night at Kottayam Medical College and his test result confirmed COVID-19 positive on Sunday.

The district authorities decided to cremate the body at Muttambalam in the town because it was not possible to bury his body in the church cemetery in his native place at Chungam near the town as per the COVID-19 protocol. So, they decided to cremate the body at the electric crematorium on Sunday afternoon.

Over 50 families live near the crematorium and they came up with strong objection to cremate the body there saying that all the bodies of the people who die from the virus would now on be brought to the crematorium in their locality. They further said that they were scared of COVID-19 infection and they would not get any job if the people come to know that they live in the area near the crematorium.

They blocked the road to crematorium creating tension in the area and it continued till late in the night.

The intervention of local Congress MLA Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan to solve the matter did not bear fruit as the locals were firm on their stand.

Later the body was brought to the crematorium at around 11 pm amid heavy police deployment after the local residents went to sleep. The body of George was cremated after completing the rituals in 15 minutes.

Following the protest, the state government issued a clarification saying that cremation of people died from coronavirus would not spread the disease.

The CPI (M) alleged that the BJP councillor tried to mislead the people.  

Image credit: Malayala Manorama

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