Harnamdass Pura residents protest cremation of patient

Fearing Covid, they were opposing his last rites near their houses

Harnamdass Pura residents protest cremation of patient

Officials interact with residents of Harnamdass Pura during a protest in Jalandhar on Thursday. tribune photo: Malkiat Singh

Deepkamal Kaur

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 9

An unruly scene was witnessed at Harnamdass Pura where the first Covid victim, Parveen Sharma of Mitha Bazaar, who passed away early this morning, was to be cremated at the cremation ground here this afternoon.


Also read: Punjab ministers dispel fear, attend funeral of Covid-19 victim


As the administration began to make preparations, residents of the colony, who have houses just adjoining the cremation ground, came out to lodge a protest. The protestors included women in large numbers, who came up with a baseless belief that their lives could be at risk if the cremation would be held there.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Gurmeet Singh and ADC (D) Vishesh Sarangal reached the spot and pacified the protestors. The residents were explained that since the body was packed properly and it would not be opened, it posed no risk to anyone. They were also made aware that as per ICMR studies the ashes of the victim were completely free from any risks and hence they should not worry at all. Eyewitnesses said the residents were also warned of strict action after they continued to object to the cremation. The police later chose to lodge an FIR against unidentified persons so that it acted as a deterrent.

Since the family of the victim, including his son who is Congress block president Deepak Sharma, could not attend the last rites as he had been quarantined, the nephew of the victim lit the pyre. The nephew, another relative and two personnel of the Health Department were given PPE kits to hold the cremation.

Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner Varinder K Sharma on Thursday issued orders empowering an Executive Magistrate to break open the locks of the crematorium if the residents objected to performing the last rites. “Even a dead person has the right to be laid to rest respectfully and we cannot deny this right to someone even if he died of the coronavirus. I have formed committees, including area SHOs and local magistrate, who will perform the last rites and ensure that there is no such disruption in future,” he said.

District officials traced all those who came in contact with Parveen Sharma and quarantined them. These included the victim’s family members, maid, milkman and other persons. “As the Mitha Bazaar, where he resided, has a high density of population, we will try to be more vigilant and seal all houses in the vicinity,” said ADC Vishesh Sarangal. Parveen Sharma, who was an ayurvedic chemist, is learnt to have suspended his practice since the lockdown but used to sit out his house to talk to passersby. As his son had met area MLA Bawa Henry 10 days ago, the latter too has gone into self-quarantine.


60 booked for obstructing cremation

The Police Commissionerate have booked 60 unidentified persons for obstructing the administration in performing the last rites of the Covid patient in Harnamdass Pura locality. Commissioner of Police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar said the miscreants had been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

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