Breaking down, Anandi Simon, wife of Dr Simon, who passed away on Sunday, has appealed to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to give her husband a decent burial after the authorities had to hurriedly finish the job due to opposition from residents in the locality.
He had contracted coronavirus from the patients he was caring for.
“He had told me, ‘If I don’t come home alive, then you bury me following our customs.’”Anandi Simon, Wife of Dr Simon
She appealed that the sealed coffin box in which he was laid to rest, be brought to Kilpauk cemetery as per his last wish.
The 55-year-old neurosurgeon was the Managing Director of New Hope Hospital in Chennai. He had helped hundreds of patients in his lifetime, and had been a frontline worker in the fight against coronavirus.
In the end, the doctor was unceremoniously lowered into a grave at Velangadu in Chennai after the family members, an ambulance driver, and a sanitary inspector were pelted with stones and sticks by an angry mob.
At around 9pm on 19 April, his family and fellow doctors, accompanied by officials from Chennai's municipal corporation, were on their way to a burial ground when they were diverted to a second place.
When they approached the burial ground at TP Chathram, over 50-60 people surrounded them. The glass panels of the ambulance was shattered and sticks and stones were hurled at those who had accompanied the body.
They had to drop the body and run for cover. Later, Dr Pradeep, a friend and a colleague, along with the help of two ward boys and a policeman, dug the hole and laid him to rest.
Health Minister C Vijayabaskar tried to reassure citizens that burying a coronavirus patient doesn’t spread the virus.
About 20 persons have been booked under Sections 332 (Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 307 (Attempting to murder), 147 (Punishment for rioting), 148 (Rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and provisions of Tamil Nadu Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act.
“A dead person cannot sneeze or cough or breathe. So the ways in which infection spreads stops the moment a person dies. And once the body is buried, the virus begins to die inside as well,” Dr T Jacob John, Retired Professor of Virology, CMC Vellore told The Quint, addressing the rumours.
Just a couple of days back, similar protests broke out in Ambattur, when residents blocked the roads and didn’t allow the cremation of a Nellore-based doctor who died in Chennai due to COVID-19.