The family of a Covid-19 victim in Jammu alleged that they had to flee with his half-burnt body on Tuesday after a mob disrupted the last rites, reported PTI. The 72-year-old man died at the Government Medical College hospital on Monday – the fourth victim from the region.

“We had set out for the funeral and had lit the pyre at a cremation ground in Domana area when a large group of local residents disrupted the last rites,” the nephew of the deceased told Hindustan Times. Only close relatives of the deceased, including his wife and two sons, were present during the cremation.

Another nephew said the mob pelted stones at them and forced them to flee with the half-burnt body in an ambulance. “Some of them even had guns,” he said. “We would have been lynched.”

He also alleged that the security officials present at the scene didn’t help. “Some police officials, who were present at the spot, also intimidated us and we were forced to take the body off the pyre,” he alleged. Later, the body was taken to a cremation ground in Bhagwati Nagar area of the city where it was consigned to flames in the presence of police officials.

An unidentified police officer confirmed that the body was brought back to the mortuary and then cremated at another place. He, however, denied any stone-pelting incident. “Neither the body was half burnt nor there was any stone pelting,” he told the Hindustan Times.

The man’s son said they had sought permission from the government to take the body to their home in Doda district for the last rites. “But we were told that all necessary arrangements were in place, and that we would not face any trouble during the cremation,” he added.

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 guidelines for disposal of bodies that were issued by the Centre on March 15, funerals are 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.

The number of coronavirus cases in India crossed 2 lakh on Wednesday after 8,909 fresh infections were reported in a day. This is the highest single-day rise in the country so far. The toll increased by 217 to 5,815.

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