A doctor in Chennai, who died after being infected with the coronavirus, was refused a proper burial by locals who protested at the cemetery where his body was taken on Sunday night. As the mob pelted stones and attacked the ambulance, his colleagues had to dig a grave with bare hands to bury the doctor.
Opposition leaders have expressed shock and disbelief at the treatment of Dr Simon Hercules, a 55-year-old neurosurgeon, who died serving the same people who later refused to give him the respect and dignity he deserved.
The incident has left many, including the family and colleagues of the doctor, in shock and disbelief. Outrage has poured in from the medical fraternity, political world as well as on Twitter.
Here are top developments from the Chennai incident:
1. After locals in Chennai refused burial to a doctor over fears of coronavirus, DMK leader Kanimozhi said, “I’m deeply shocked to a group of people have stopped the burial of Dr. Simon Hercules. Only clapping hands for doctors, nurses, health workers and sanitation workers is not enough.”
2. PMK Leader Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss said, “This is a stigma which is affecting doctors and patients alike. It’s a horrifying event that happened. Dr. Simon served people. He deserved a decent burial. These doctors have worked selflessly. People need to understand this.”
3. Dr Simon Hercules, a Chennai-based neurosurgeon, passed away on Sunday night after battling the coronavirus for two weeks. He was on ventilator support towards the end when he suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening.
4. His body was handed over to his family and some colleagues from his hospital. The group was on its way to the Kilpauk cemetery where angry locals were already waiting to turn them away.
5. The ambulance carrying the remains of Dr Simon then went to the Anna Nagar cemetery where another group of protesters met them. The mob did not just protest, but attacked the ambulance, broke the windows and injured the driver and a sanitation worker with sticks and stones.
6. Dr Bhagyaraj, a colleague of Dr Simon, said at one point they had to abandon the body and flee to save themselves from the mob. They later came back to collect the body.
7. Later, another colleague, Dr Pradeep and two others dressed in PPE kits buried Dr Simon by themselves as there was no one else to help. The three of them went back to the cemetery at night and buried Dr Simon with bare hands as there was only one shovel to use.
8. Dr Pradeep narrated his horrific ordeal and said that even as they lowered the body into the grave, they feared for their lives as the mob was still present but at a distance as they had police protection around.
9. Police later arrested 20 people from Anna Nagar who were involved in the attack.
10. Various doctors associations have condemned the incident and requested the government to ensure such incidents are not repeated again. They have requested the government to ensure people are made aware that the virus does not spread if the body is buried there as due care and protocol are followed in burial and cremation.