Assam SP gives respectful farewell to COVID-19 victim after others prove unwilling

Arun Kakoti of Sum Pura in Bokoliaghat of Karbi Anglong district had died on June 7 and the body was lying at the morgue of a government hospital for two days in the district headquarters Diphu.

Published: 10th June 2020 05:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2020 08:19 PM   |  A+A-

Arun Kakoti of Sum Pura in Bokoliaghat of Karbi Anglong district had died on June 7.

Arun Kakoti of Sum Pura in Bokoliaghat of Karbi Anglong district had died on June 7.

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: A Superintendent of Police in Assam volunteered to ensure a respectful farewell to a man, who died of COVID-19, after health workers said they were frightened and unwilling to do the job.

Arun Kakoti of Sum Pura in Bokoliaghat of Karbi Anglong district had died on June 7 and the body was lying at the morgue of a government hospital for two days in the district headquarters Diphu. The health workers avoided the body fearing contagion. A chowkidar also stayed away after locking the morgue's door. 

As the body started decomposing, the SP Debojit Deuri broke open the morgue's door and lifted the body out along with his driver and two personal security officers (PSOs). They performed the last rites at a crematorium on Tuesday at the man's village in the presence of his son-in-law Ananta Konwar and a few others.

Before that, attempts made by them to complete the burial at two other places had failed as the locals resisted. 

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Deuri, who is an Assam Police Service officer, said it was entirely "teamwork". He said the man was at a quarantine centre and was sent to home quarantine on June 3 when the result of his swab test was found to be negative. 

However, on June 6, he had developed some health problems and his swab sample was collected again. On June 7, he died while being brought to the hospital. Soon, the results came confirming that he was infected with COVID-19. His death had triggered panic among the health workers, the SP said.

"According to protocols, the burial was planned at a designated site. When we went to see the site on June 8, the locals staged a protest. We then planned it at another location but the locals there too resisted. Those who are supposed to do the job were found to be worried and unwilling. The driver of the dead body van also vanished. A doctor, an executive member of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC), a magistrate and I were there. So, a decision was taken. I decided to take the lead. I thought no matter how the man has died, the last farewell should be respectful and dignified," Deuri told The New Indian Express.

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He said if he had not done the job, the doctor or the Executive Member or the magistrate had to do it.

"There was no other way out. The circumstances compelled me to come forward. The doctor is more important, so I didn't seek his service. I had the paraphernalia. A car was hired to ferry the body to the crematorium ground," the SP said.

He said the KAAC authorities had played a key role in convincing the locals for the last rites in the village. 

"District Magistrate Mukul Kumar Saikia, Deputy SP (headquarters) Diphu, Nahid Karisma, and officer-in-charge of Bakulia SIUB Biju Kinkar Basumatary were also involved in the entire management," Deuri, who is now in home quarantine, added.

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