MUMBAI: A circular issued by BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi on Monday saying bodies of all dead Covid-19 positive patients must be cremated irrespective of religion stirred up a controversy in the city, with many protesting against the guidelines. The circular was amended later in the evening by the BMC chief’s office to say burials would be allowed if “the burial grounds are large enough.”
Pardeshi had stated in the original circular that all dead bodies of patients should be cremated “at the nearest crematorium irrespective of their religion.” The circular had added, “However if someone insists to bury the dead body he will be permitted only if the dead body is taken out of Mumbai city’s jurisdiction in a burial ground and transport and other arrangements are made by the concerned on their own following all the guidelines and precautions as given for disposal of dead bodies of Covid-19. Copy of guidelines will be issued to the concerned in such case for which they will be solely and fully responsible.”
Among those to protest was former MLA Naseem Khan, who said it was unfortunate the civic administration had brought out such a circular in a country which has people of different religions with different ways of performing last rites. “If medically all precautions are taken, how the last rites of the deceased are to be performed must be left to the discretion of the person’s family,” he said. However, former BJP MP Kirit Somaiyya on Twitter “appreciated” the circular.
With the row over the issue developing, cabinet minister and MLA Nawab Malik spoke to the civic chief in this regard. Malik later said on Twitter, “This is to bring to your kind attention that I have spoken to @mybmc Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi regarding the circular issued by him for cremation of those who have lost their lives due to the #CoronaVirus. The said circular has now been withdrawn.”
According to the revised circular issued by Pardeshi’s office later, “if someone insisted to bury the dead body, he will be permitted if the burial grounds are large enough so as not to create possibility of spread of the virus in the neigbouring area and other arrangements are made by the concerned on their own following all the guidelines and precautions as given for disposal of dead bodies of Covid-19.”