Residents of a village in Ambala city in Haryana on Monday clashed with the police and pelted stones at doctors after refusing to allow the cremation of a Covid-19 suspect, NDTV reported. The woman, who was in her 60s, had died at a civic hospital in Ambala on Monday.

The residents of Chandpura village threw stones at the police and doctors at the cremation ground. The police had to fire in the air to disperse the mob. The cremation was conducted after the crowd was dispersed.

A doctor said the woman’s Covid-19 test results were awaited. “The woman had asthma and on Monday afternoon she started facing difficulty in maintaining oxygen saturation,” Civil Surgeon Dr Kuldeep Singh said. “She died while undergoing treatment. We collected her samples for Covid-19 testing and after following the due standard operating procedure we released her body for the cremation at a designated place to the district administration.”

The doctor said the villagers unnecessarily opposed the cremation. He said all safety measures had been taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Ambala Cantonment Deputy Superintendent of Police Ram Kumar said the villagers did not heed the police when they were told that all safety measures had been taken. Kumar said that apart from pelting stones, the mob also damaged an ambulance. He added that a case will be filed against the villagers for attacking the doctors and the police and violating the lockdown.

Last week, the Centre said attacks on healthcare professionals, deployed on the frontlines to combat the coronavirus pandemic, will be a non-bailable offence and will carry an imprisonment from six months to seven years in severe cases where there are grievous injuries.

Funeral rituals in India are being dramatically changed by the coronavirus pandemic as families in various parts of the country have refused to perform the last rites of their relatives over the fear of the spread of the Covid-19 infection. According to the new guidelines for disposal of bodies that were issued by the Centre on March 15, funerals are now limited to 20 or fewer attendees. The guidelines also prohibit bathing or embalming the corpse of a Covid-19 patients and ban relatives from kissing or hugging the body to avoid any risk of transmitting the virus.

So far, Ambala has reported 12 cases of Covid-19. In Haryana, 296 people have been found positive, including three deaths.

Other such instances

There have been past instances of attacks on police personnel and doctors attempting to carry out the last rites. On April 19, a mob in Chennai attacked a group, including doctors, during the burial of a neurosurgeon who had tested positive for Covid-19.

Health officials and police officers in Chennai were in a fix on April 13 when residents in Ambattur, ignoring prohibitory orders, protested the cremation of a doctor, who died at a private hospital.

On April 8, a family in Amritsar, Punjab, refused to perform the last rites of a Covid-19 patient, fearing that they may contract the disease. In another incident in Ludhiana, the district administration had to step in and perform the last rites of a 69-year-old woman, after her family refused to perform the funeral. In Amritsar earlier this month, residents of Verka village did not allow the cremation of Padma Shri recipient and former Golden Temple Hazuri Raagi Bhai Nirmal Singh Khalsa.

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