A day after residents living near the Muttambalam public crematorium in the Kottayam Municipality stopped the cremation of a COVID-19 victim, the police have filed a case against local BJP Councillor and others. A case has been registered under section 269 of the Indian Penal Code (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life).
There was palpable tension in the Muttambalam housing colony on Saturday when district authorities came to cremate the body of an 83-year-old man who passed away on Friday and was found to have COVID-19 posthumously. Residents led by the BJP councillor TN Harikumar protested for hours and forced the District administration to retreat. Though the administration had brought in police and even held peace talks, the residents were not willing to let the body be cremated there and claimed that their health would be impacted. They even constructed a temporary fence to block the police.
However, around 11 pm in the night, the District administration lead by Kottayam RDO Jolly Joseph and Tahsildar C H Rajendrababu came to the crematorium with around 200 police personnel and creanyed the body. The Kottayam Collector and SP are in quarantine and could not be present at the place.
The police blocked the road to the crematorium and the body was brought in an ambulance. According to reports, though there was some resistance, the body could be cremated.
Thr BJP councillor has been blamed of instigating the residents. Talking to the media on Sunday evening, after talks failed, local MLA Thiruvanchiyoor Radhakrishnan said that many of the residents at the housing colony worked as househelps, and they were concerned that they would lose their jobs if the people who hired them came to know that a COVID-19 patient had been cremated near their houses.
On Sunday one of the suggestions that the district administration had put forward was that the residents should allow this cremation and no more would be held in the future. But the residents had rejected the suggestion.
The man, a native of Chungam in Kottayam was the first COVID-19 related death in the district. The man who was under treatment for pneumonia was tested positive after he passed away at the Kottayam Medical College on Saturday. The health officials had decided to hold the funeral in the Muttambalam public crematorium owned by the Kottayam Municipality, on Sunday afternoon.