In Chennai, doctor’s burial marred by protests, attacks

A team led by Kilpauk Deputy Commissioner of Police chased the attackers. The body was buried around 1.30 a.m. amid tight police security.

Updated - April 20, 2020 12:45 pm IST

Published - April 20, 2020 11:41 am IST - CHENNAI

Police deployed at a burial ground in Anna Nagar, where locals refused to allow the last rites of a COVID-19 victim.

Police deployed at a burial ground in Anna Nagar, where locals refused to allow the last rites of a COVID-19 victim.

In a shocking repeat of what happened when a doctor from Andhra Pradesh died of COVID-19 just a week ago, a mob attacked a group of persons, including doctors, during the burial of a neurosurgeon, who had died after he tested positive for COVID-19, in a private hospital on Sunday.

The body of the 55-year-old doctor, who heads a private hospital on Poonamallee High Road, was shifted from the private hospital to Chennai Corporation’s burial ground near Kilpauk on Sunday night. However, residents gathered on the road and protested.

Two of the injured hospital staff.

Two of the injured hospital staff.

 

“The Chennai Corporation staff had made all arrangements, and accompanied us from the private hospital to the burial ground. However, on reaching the spot, we found that around 200 persons had gathered and started to protest. Police were on the spot. The Corporation officers said we should go to another burial ground in Anna Nagar (Velangadu). We reached the burial ground and the earthmover was engaged in digging the pit. As per norms, only a few of us, including doctors and family members, gathered for the burial,” Pradeep Kumar, consultant, arthroscopy surgeon, said.

“Suddenly, some 50 to 60 persons started to attack us. They started to hurl stones and throw sticks at us. There were about seven to eight Corporation staff at the spot. We had to flee the spot to escape from the attack. Some of us were bleeding. The windshield of the hospital ambulance was damaged by the attackers. We drove back in the same vehicle,” he recalled the incident.

It was around 11.30 p.m. when the ambulance reached Kilpauk and Dr. Kumar along with two ward boys of the hospital decided to go back. “I wore the personal protective equipment and drove back in the same ambulance. Police personnel were at the spot. The earthmover operator had also fled from the spot. We buried the doctor and closed the pit on our own. Our ward boys and police helped,” he said.

An ambulance driver, who was injured in the attack, said he received four stitches on his head at the Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital, while another colleague received six stitches for a head injury.

Officials of the Health department said the burial took place with police protection.

Additional Commissioner of Police (South) Prem Anand Sinha said some local people threw stones damaging the ambulance. A team led by Kilpauk Deputy Commissioner of Police chased the attackers. The body was buried around 1.30 a.m. amid tight police security. The Anna Nagar police have registered a case against more than a dozen people and arrests were being made.

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