Dr John Sailo, whose death from coronavirus caused a situation of hue-and-cry across Meghalaya, has finally been laid to rest at the Riatsamthiah Presbyterian Cemetery at Lawmali earlier today.
On Thursday afternoon, the Shillong Municipal Corporation sprung into action, bringing some much needed relief to the family members of the deceased doctor who must have been in torment since locals did not allow his body to be cremated or buried yesterday. Personnel wearing PPE kits could be seen carrying the remains of the deceased doctor in a coffin too be buried.
The Riatsamthiah Presbyterian Church has been thanked by the State's Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma for allowing Sailo's body to be buried at the cemetary. "Kindness is the need of the hour and our gratitude goes to the Riatsamthiah Presbyterian Church for their gesture. May his soul rest in peace", Sangma said.
Tragedy unfolded in Shillong, Meghalaya, in the wee hours of April 15 when Dr Sailo, one of the most distinguished doctors from the state passed away in the wee hours of the morning from the coronavirus. It left his loved ones in a state of anguish that would soon turn to embarrassment, as despite their repeated requests, locals of Meghalaya did not allow his body to be buried or cremated. This can solely be attributed to the "corona stigma" that has spread its tentacles across India, where awareness regarding the virus still leaves much to be desired.
In a country that is trying to shed its part of casteism and untouchability to fit itself into the modern social fabric, such tendencies of "distancing" were witnessed again when Dr Sailo was not allowed to be cremated or buried after his tragic death. In fact, people, believing that the 'infection' could spread further from the dead doctor's corpse, took to the streets in large numbers to oppose his last rites.
After his death, the doctor’s body was taken to the electric crematorium of Jhalupara, where the locals vehemently opposed his cremation. Would not allow 50 people to die for the sake of one, they said. 200-300 people then poured out onto the streets and opposed the crenation, fearing an outbreak of the virus in the overcrowded area. The situation got so out of hand that police personnel and high-ranking officials were deployed in the area to curb the protest.
Over in Ri-Bhoi district, where the doctor owns a farmhouse, locals did not give "permission" to bury the body either. The village council held a meeting at the end of which it was "unanimously decided not to allow the burial of the body of Dr Sailo in Nongpoh, based on the following reasons: That the residents have panicked hearing the news, because the farmhouse is in between the village, that the doctor is not a permanent resident of Nongpoh and there has been no safety concerning such cases." It is pertinent to mention here that once, Dr Sailo had met village leaders of Nongpoh to request his burial at his farmhouse in Nongpoh.
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