Unlike India and specifically Mumbai where the Uddhav Thackeray government had to bow down in front of its political masters for the appeasement politics, the island nation of Sri Lanka has made cremation compulsory for Wuhan virus victims, ignoring protests from the country’s Muslim population which says the rule goes against Islamic tradition. “The corpse of a person who has died or is suspected to have died, of COVID-19 shall be cremated,” Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said on Sunday.
More than 200 people have tested positive for Wuhan virus in Sri Lanka where an indefinite nationwide curfew has been imposed.
The newly elect President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa–nicknamed “Terminator” is on a spree to end Islamic terror in the country. After the ghastly Easter Sunday Church attacks by a radical Islamist group last year, the Sri Lankan authorities are going all out to clamp the growing radicalization and thereby not letting any major religious majority or minority dictating its decisions.
Last month the Shiv Sena controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s chief Praveen Pardeshi issued a circular that all the bodies of the victims of the Wuhan virus should be cremated irrespective of the religion. The decision instantly sent alarm bells ringing in the Maha Vikas Aghadi. President of Mumbai NCP and state cabinet Minister Nawab Malik quickly intervened and steamrolled the Shiv Sena to withdraw the circular prohibiting burial.
The Uddhav Thackeray government surrendered to Maharashtra’s old warhorse Sharad Pawar and his party. In a sign of who actually controls the Maharashtra government — the BMC was forced to withdraw a circular prohibiting burial. BMC Chief Praveen Paredeshi stated that: “ All bodies of #COVID19 patients should be cremated irrespective of religion. Burial will not be allowed. The funeral should not involve more than 5 people.”
The BMC where the NCP has a meagre 9 out of the total 227 seats has still managed to have its way.
The WHO guidelines state that graveyards should be at least 30 metre from groundwater sources used for drinking water with grave floors being at least 1.5 m above the water table, with a 0.7 m unsaturated zone. Apart from the process of disinfecting and procuring a thick coffin, the guidelines specifically state that the surface water from graveyards must not enter inhabited areas. It goes without saying that there will be grave consequences if the surface water enters the inhabited areas.
AIIMS too has listed out a specific set of guidelines and have stated that for conducting the last rites of the victims of the Wuhan virus cremation-especially electric or CNG-run should be preferred. The forensic medicine department of the AIIMS, New Delhi has drafted a new protocol which states that, “For last rites, cremation should be preferred for the complete elimination of chances of infection in either electric or gas crematorium in a zipped body bag. However, keeping in mind the religious views of the family, if the burial of the body is requested, then it should be assured that the body is buried in a thick, airtight coffin.” The protocol further adds that the body needs to be buried at a depth of 4-6 feet and should be cemented immediately as an additional precautionary measure.
If India is to beat this fatal virus in the all-out war that is being waged at the moment—the petty politics regarding appeasing some minority at the behest of endangering the lives of billions should be shunned. If the tiny island nation can show such resolve, then India and its politicians surely can grow some spine too.