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Cremation prevented in Covid-19 panic

'No one came to help us as they feared they could get infected if they touched the body' said the wife

Snehamoy Chakraborty   |   Burdwan   |   Published 14.04.20, 08:38 PM

Family members of a 35-year-old man, who died on Monday of liver ailment and had been down with chicken-pox, was harassed for over 24 hours with villagers preventing cremation till an autopsy was carried out and doctors confirmed he was not infected with Covid-19 at Kalna in East Burdwan

To fulfil the demand of the villagers and ensure the body was cremated, the family members of Khitish Arya were forced to take the body to Kalna subdivisional hospital for post-mortem.

After the post-mortem was done, the body was handed over to the family members who conducted the last rites at a crematorium in Kalna, 9km from Muktarpur where the person had died.

“He had been suffering from liver diseases for the past few years but the villagers panicked. He was down with chicken-pox and died because of severe weakness and infection in the liver,” said Krishna Chandra Barui, the superintendent of Kalna subdivisional hospital.

“It is a norm that if anyone is brought dead to the hospital, a post-mortem is done. However, after inspecting the body on Monday night, our doctors informed that he was not Covid-infected,” he said.

Arya, who was a weaver and often doubled up as a daily labourer, lived at Muktarpur village under Hatkalna gram panchayat.

After Arya died, his wife Sikha had sought the help of villagers for his cremation but no one came forward fearing the body was infected with the novel coronavirus.

“No one came to help us as they feared they could get infected if they touched the body,” said Sikha.

Around 8pm, chief of the Trinamul-run Hatkalna gram panchayat Subhra Majumdar came and tried to convince the villagers that there was no fear of Covid as he had no such symptom and his health issues were known to all.

“I asked his brothers to come from nearby Dhatrigram and take the body to a local crematorium after a doctor issued the death certificate. But as soon as the body was taken to crematorium, villagers started protesting and did not allow us to cremate,” said Majumder.

Dipankar Arya, a weaver and brother of the deceased, said: “We have helped cremate at least 30 persons at our village and today, we had to face harassment when my brother died.”


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