“Are humans and the humanity intrinsically pole apart when we are endangered or facing life-threatening circumstances?” Sadly, it seems to be the case, because the angels in white coats—the doctors who are the first line of defense in our battle against the Wuhan virus pandemic are being routinely shamed, disturbed, hit and even in death–being denied of the rudimentary human decency.
What started from the Tablighi Jamaat and its member’s shambolic behavior has been emulated by the common masses now. Disturbing reports have come in from across the country where doctors who died risking their lives for humanity are being denied a death-bed.
Last Thursday, Meghalaya’s first Wuhan virus patient Dr. John L. Sailo Ryntathiang, a 69-year-old physician and founder of one of the first big private hospitals of the state — was buried at a church cemetery, almost 36 hours after he died. For 36 hours, the body of a doctor who devoted his entire life to the welfare of the public was not given a resting place. The society turned his back on him and he was reduced to a mere body. The Meghalaya CM took to Twitter when the body was finally laid to rest and expressed his disappointment.
Dr. John L. Sailo Ryntathiang laid to rest at the Riatsamthiah Presbyterian Cemetery today.
Kindness is the need of the hour and our gratitude goes to the Riatsamthiah Presbyterian Church for their gesture. May his soul rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/gFjTTheNMz
— Conrad Sangma (@SangmaConrad) April 16, 2020
The family initially wanted to bury Dr. John in Nongpoh in Ri Bhoi district, where they have a home, but other residents in the area created a ruckus and the state administration and doctor’s family had to retreat.
They then decided to cremate him in Shillong’s Jhalupara area but were again denied by people living nearby. And all this while, the doctor’s body lay in the hospital he had founded nearly two decades ago.
Finally, on Wednesday night, the government reached out to churches and he was laid to rest at the Riatsamthiah Presbyterian Cemetery.
This was not the end of misery for the Doctor’s family. The family members and helpers of the doctor who tested positive for the virus were hounded on social media platforms. Hate comments and vicious trolls attacked and targeted the entire family.
The son-in-law wrote a heartfelt letter which was written more so in desperation, as a call of help and to tell the world what he and his family were going through since Dr. Sailo tested positive. Absolute scums of the earth, who have made the deaths of such doctors an even more painful memory for their loved ones.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said he was deeply concerned and agonized over the 36-hour delay in finding a resting place for the doctor.
Shockingly, another doctor was denied a death-bed here in Chennai. The 55-year old Dr. Simon, Managing Director of New Hope Hospital in Chennai had tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago and was undergoing treatment at Apollo hospital since then. Unfortunately, Dr. Simon succumbed to the virus and he passed away at 6.15 pm on Sunday.
When his family members along with some of his colleagues tried to bury his body at a cemetery in Kilpauk, residents allegedly created trouble, not allowing the family to proceed, fearing the spreading of infection. His family members, two ambulance drivers, and his colleagues were physically harmed in the ruckus that ensued.
“We had to abandon his body and run away from there for Dr. Pradeep to finish the last rites,” Dr. Bhagyaraj, a microbiologist who was part of the group that was attacked, says in a video he released following the incidents on Sunday.
Dr. Simon in his lifetime had helped hundreds of patients, and is remembered by people around as a person who put humanity first, yet, in his final moments, he was given such a sorry treatment. Some parity was restored when the Chief Minister took action and 20 people were arrested for an attempt to murder.
The virus has brought the ugliness of people out—we saw it with the Tablighi Jamaat members and their sympathizers who pelted stones at the doctors and harassed health workers and now we have seen it with the two doctors who were not given the veneration that they deservingly deserved. The shallowness our society at large-displayed reflects on each and every one of us. It depicts how low we have plummeted.
Perhaps, the families of the departed might forgive us with the passage of time but the dark chapter that has been written in our fight against the Wuhan virus will forever be ingrained in our history.