Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said he was “deeply disturbed” by news reports that people in Meghalaya and Tamil Nadu had opposed funerals of doctors who died of COVID-19 fearing it could further spread the disease.
Such incidents are a blot on the society’s consciousness, he said.
Citing a newspaper report, he said there was a delay of 36 hours in the funeral of the Meghalaya doctor.
“Such incidents are a blot on the society’s consciousness and of great concern for all of us, irrespective of party, religion and region,” he said in a Facebook post.
The “unfortunate behaviour” from the locals forced Chief Minister Conrad Sangma to finally intervene in the matter and help resolve it, Vice President Naidu said.
Deeply disturbed by a news item in today’s “The Indian Express” over a 36-hour delay to find a resting place to the dead body of a 69-year-old popular Meghalaya doctor following strong resistance from the local people.https://t.co/cM7CuLNtC4
— Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat) April 17, 2020
The vice president said the physician’s body lay for several hours in the hospital he had founded after attempts to bury or cremate him were unsuccessful due to local resistance.
“Further distressed to know about a similar incident in Chennai, where locals resisted cremation of a doctor hailing from Nellore following his death in a city hospital.
“Saddened to learn that the body had to be shifted to an alternative place for cremation with the help of police and other authorities,” Vice President Naidu later said on Twitter.
He felt that there is an urgent need to educate the people and remove misconceptions on COVID-19 to prevent such inhuman incidents in the future.
The vice president has shared his concerns on the issue with the home secretary and the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
He said it is a matter of deep anguish that such incidents occurred in spite of an advisory being issued by the central government in March for the management of dead bodies infected with novel coronavirus.
“I urge all citizens to be empathic and respond compassionately, not react irrationally, especially during these testing times,” Vice President Naidu said.
People must act responsibly and not believe in rumours, the vice president said.
The need of the hour is to create greater social awareness among the general public by various stakeholders, he opined.
“Doctors and the medical fraternity are risking their lives to save us during the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to respect them and lend our support in these testing times,” he said.