The Tapi district collector has ordered an inquiry after the body of a co-operative sector leader, who died of Covid-19 in Surat on Saturday, was taken to his village and his face was allegedly left uncovered for people to pay their last respects, violating the protocol for last rites for deceased Covid-19 patients.
Dilip Bhakt (75), former chairman of the Madhi Sugar Co-operative Society and Surat District Co-operative Bank, was undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at Unity hospital in Surat since last 20 days and he died on Saturday morning.
Ekta trust, an NGO in Surat designated to do funerals of Covid-19 victims, took charge of the body, wrapped it as per the Covid-19 guidelines, and on the request of the family members of the deceased, took it to his village, Bajipura, in Tapi district. The body was cremated at Vyara in Tapi. District Collector of Tapi R J Halani said that the body was to be cremated in Surat, and should not have been taken to Tapi. The hospital authorities handed over the body to Ekta trust. The family members of Bhakt were also present in the hospital.
Sources said that on the way, Ekta trust members, on the request of the family members, stopped the mobile van near a temple at Bajipura village. They later uncovered his face so those known to him can see him for last time. After keeping the body with face open in the mobile van for half an hour, the trust members took the body for cremation.
After videos of the purported incident surfaced on social media, District Collector Halani sent health department teams to Bajipura village to verify the incident.The health department officials had put 20 villagers including family members of Bhakt, who were present near the mobile van, under home quarantine.
Talking to The Indian Express, Halani said, “Hospital authorities should have informed us about the death of Dilip Bhakt when they handed over the body to Ekta trust members. It is the duty of the Ekta trust to cremate the body in Surat, and not bring it to Tapi district. We have instructed Tapi police to start an inquiry into the incident. On the basis of the inquiry report, we will take action against the Ekta trust members, who were involved in this incident.”
Despite repeated attempts, Ekta trust president Abdul Malbari could not be reached for comments.
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