Home / India News / Setting an example: Men in khaki don PPE kits to conduct last rites of Covid-19 patient in Assam
Guwahati: A superintendent of police (SP) in a district in Assam and his three other staff exchanged their khaki uniforms for personal protective equipment (PPE) kits on Tuesday to conduct the last rites of a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) victim in a bid to set an example of precautionary measures against the raging pandemic.
Debojit Deori, SP, Karbi Anglong, his two bodyguards and a driver were left to perform the last rites of a 54-year-old person, the first Covid-19 victim in the district, after mounting local resistance because of the social stigma and a growing panic against the viral infection.
The victim, who had returned from Chennai in May, had died at the medical college hospital in Diphu, the headquarters of Karbi Anglong district, on Sunday.
However, his last rites were performed two days later because of the opposition from the locals and a delay in locating a suitable place to bury the dead.
“Nobody was willing to perform the victim’s last rites because of lack of awareness among the locals. His last rites were performed at a place, which is not usually used for cremation, as local people were scared of contracting SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19,” said Deori.
“Ultimately, we decided to step in, as someone had to set an example and perform the last rites with proper dignity. We performed the last rites at Bokoliaghat, around 50 kilometres from Diphu. A family member conducted the rituals before the burial,” the SP added.
Deori has sent his aged mother to his native place, as a precautionary measure, and he has also quarantined himself at home. The other three persons, who helped the SP to conduct the victim’s last rites, have also gone under home quarantine.
“Someone had to perform the last rites, as we couldn’t have kept the body for long and he had to be given a decent send-off. We also needed to show it to the people that as long as you use the necessary safety measures, there’s nothing to fear about the viral outbreak,” said Deori.
There have been instances of delays and problems in disposing bodies of Covid-19 patients at several places across the country.
Similar problems were reported after Assam’s first Covid-19 death in the Barak Valley’s Hailakandi district and the first fatality in neighbouring Meghalaya in April.
“We couldn’t conduct the last rites at the two places chosen earlier, as the public was panic-stricken. Sanitary workers were also unwilling to take part in conducting the last rites. Finally, it was performed close to a public cremation site near the deceased’s residence,” said Mukul Kumar Saikia, deputy commissioner (DC), Karbi Anglong.
“I’m thankful to SP Deori and the other men who came forward to conduct the last rites to set an example. He and the other three men are in quarantine for a few days as a preventive measure,” he added.
Assam has recorded five Covid-19 related deaths till Wednesday. Over 3,000 Covid-19 positive cases have been recorded in the state and nearly 1,100 patients have recovered to date.