GUWAHATI: A doctor in Meghalaya capital Shillong, who died after contracting COVID-19, was laid to rest on Thursday – a day after locals resisted the performance of his last rites at different localities at the hill station as well as elsewhere.
Official sources said the body of the 69-year-old was buried at the Riatsamthiah Presbyterian Church cemetery in Lawmali area of Shillong.
“The last rites were performed by a small group of priests and officials. They adhered to all the guidelines including social distancing,” East Khasi Hills District Magistrate Matsiewdor War Nongbri told this newspaper.
The doctor had died in the wee hours of Wednesday at Bethany Hospital which he owned. The death occurred in less than 48 hours since he was declared a COVID-19 patient.
Initially, the burial was planned within his residential compound adjacent to the hospital but the authorities did not approve it for reasons not known.
They had plans to cremate the body at the Jhalupara electric crematorium on Wednesday night and then, put the ashes into a coffin for burial at the doctor’s farmhouse in Nongpoh, 50 km north of Shillong towards Guwahati. However, the locals stood opposed to it and staged a protest as they feared the virus would spread to their area.
The Nongpoh dorbar (a traditional local council) also resisted it on the ground that the doctor was not a permanent resident of the place.
Eventually, the authorities heaved a sigh of relief when a Shillong locality, Mawryngkneng, came forward approving the burial at the cemetery out of gratitude to the departed soul for his decades-long service extended to the locals. A similar offer was also made by three churches of different denominations.
Six people, including family members, who had come in contact with the doctor, have tested positive. All of them were quarantined at the hospital which has since been sealed. It was still not known from whom the doctor contracted the virus. He had no travel history in recent times.