Coronavirus Pandemic

India: Woman forced to pay bribe to cremate 98-year-old aunt

Web report/Chennai
Filed on May 19, 2021
AFP photo used for illustrative purpose

Officials and staff demand Dh400 for cremation.

A Chennai woman experienced a horrendous time on Tuesday night after her 98-year-old aunt died of Covid-19, with officials from the civic body and the crematorium demanding money from her for the cremation.

The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) reacted swiftly to her complaints, with Gagandeep Singh Bedi, the commissioner, initiating action against the corporation employees accused of harassing her and those at the Otteri crematorium.

According to media reports, the resident of Vepery informed the GCC that her aunt, who was under palliative care, had passed away and the family did not want any hospital assistance. Since it was night, she would keep the body in a freezer coffin and cremate it the next morning.

Officials from the corporation landed at the house and said the aged woman had tested Covid-19 positive and had to be cremated immediately. But they could not provide any medical certificate and promised to give it the following morning.

When the body was taken to the Otteri crematorium, the officials and the staff there demanded Rs8,000 (Dh400) for the cremation. When she refused to pay, they abused her. Finally, she had to shell out the Rs3,000 she had. But the workers refused to cremate and asked her to bring the remaining Rs5,000 the next morning if she wanted to collect the ash.

The civic body chief told the media that all the persons involved in the incident would be suspended and action initiated against them.

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