Madras HC directs Dr Simon’s body to be exhumed, re-buried at Kilpauk cemetery

Dr Simon, who succumbed to COVID-19 last year, had to be hurriedly buried at night after a mob attacked his family, friends and health officials over COVID-19 fears.
File photo of Chennai neurosurgeon Dr Simon Hercules sitting on a bench cross-legged in a park
File photo of Chennai neurosurgeon Dr Simon Hercules sitting on a bench cross-legged in a park
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The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed Chennai Corporation officials to exhume the body of Chennai-based neurosurgeon Dr Simon Hercules, who was buried at a cemetery in Velangadu after he died of COVID-19 last year, and bury it in the Kilpauk cemetery with all safety measures. The High Court bench of Justice Abdul Quddhose delivered the order on a plea by the neurosurgeon’s wife Anandhi Simon who had asked for her husband, who was the Managing Director of New Hope Hospital, to be buried with dignity in Kilpauk.

After he succumbed to COVID-19 on April 19, 2020, Dr Simon was taken to the burial ground in TB Chatram in Kilpauk for his last rites. However, a large crowd had gathered there to stop the burial over fears of COVID-19 spread, and so family and friends were diverted to Velangadu to bury him there. At the Velangadu cemetery though, a violent mob from the neighbourhood attacked his family, friends and health officials, despite the fact that COVID-19 precautions were being followed. After the attack, his colleague had to return to the cemetery after midnight with police protection, dig a grave, and that is how Dr Simon was finally buried. The city police later arrested 22 people on charges of attempt to murder and booked 69 others.

Dr Simon’s wife had requested to re-bury the doctor’s body at the Kilpauk cemetery. Last year she had made a tearful request to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami to fulfil her husband’s last wish and bury him at the cemetery in Kilpauk. However, responding to her plea, the Chennai Corporation had at the time expressed its inability to exhume his body and bury it at Kilpauk.

“A report was sought on this request from a committee comprising public health experts. According to the report, it is not safe to re-bury the body of a person who has died of coronavirus and has been buried according to the safety protocol. Thus, it is informed that it is not possible to accept the request of Anandhi Simon,” a statement from the Chennai Corporation had then said. Dr Simon's wife had then moved the Madras High Court.

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