Picture used for representational purpose only
HYDERABAD: At least 150 persons in Hyderabad who died during the lockdown, were given largely secret burial or cremation at an undisclosed location by the municipal authorities as there is growing resistance from local communities and managements of graveyards who fear contracting Covid-19.
The communities not only resist cases where the person is known to have died due to the virus, but they are also refusing final rites of even those where they are unsure about the Covid-19 status. This has left civic officials with an uphill task of finding a decent resting place for the departed.
Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) personnel have also been performing the last rites of bodies where families have abandoned them due to fear of infection.
As per protocol, bodies of Covid victims are not being handed over to family members. They cannot touch or perform any rituals, but a limited number can witness the last rites. Though the death toll due to the virus till Monday was 88, officials had to perform the last rites of another 62 persons for reasons ranging from fear to inability of kin to travel or the family itself being in quarantine.
Some graveyards not accepting bodies of coronavirus victims
These patients have died like orphans despite having families,” GHMC assistant medical officer of health (AMOH), Secunderabad and Begumpet, Dr Ravinder Goud told TOI. “Six to eight members in PPE gear are involved in the last rites. This sight further frightens locals who think something abnormal is happening, especially when some burials take place at night.”
He said the body packing process is elaborate. The teams follow all safety procedures and yet communities are resisting final rites.
Aizaz Khasim, AMOH, Mehdipatnam and Karwan, said: “The virus does not spread through a body.”
The site at which the last rites were taking place has 15-metre high blue sheets cordoning it off so the locals cannot look in. Police help was being taken wherever required, he said. Managements of some graveyards confirmed to TOI that they were not accepting Covid-19 cases. “The government has mandated that graveyards provide a letter of consent before the body is brought for last rites. Most managements are refusing to give these letters because of fear of infection,” said Ajayraj Sharma, caretaker of the Imliban Shamshan Vatika, which has not allowed any Covid-related burials stating it was a public space and also houses a gaushala.
Sharma said with communities living within 500 metres of most graveyards, apprehensions run deep.
Rajkumar, in-charge manager, Mahaprasthanam, Jubilee Hills, also confirmed that no Covid-19 cases were being brought there because the fear of infection spreading is a concern. “A cremation was done early on, but we are not allowing (Covid-19 confirmed cases) now,” he said.