The Tamil Nadu Advocates Association (TNAA) has strongly condemned a recent attack on those attempting to bury the mortal remains of a medical practitioner who had died after acquiring COVID-19 while treating his patients.
Condemning the attempt to deny the Doctor a burial, TNAA has also extended its fullest support to all Doctors, police personnel, sanitary workers and government authorities who are working towards fighting the Corona virus pandemic in this situation.
Dr. Simon Hercules was a 55 year old neurosurgeon who passed away on Sunday after having tested positive for COVID-19 earlier. His mortal remains were handed over to the family who headed to the Kilpauk cemetery in Chennai to bury him with dignity. However, a mob of locals reached the site upon receiving word about this, turned violent and attacked friends, family as well as the ambulance driver because they were determined not to allow the burial to proceed. They feared the burial would spread the virus. Dr. Hercules was later buried in the presence of police security but without his family members being around.
Narrating this shocking incident, and citing an increase in attacks against healthcare workers, TNAA has expressed their concern thus:-
"Health care is under attack. The sanctity of health care, the right to health, and International Humanitarian Law are threatened. Such attacks deprive people of urgently needed care, endanger health care providers, and undermine health systems."
"While the nation has repeatedly saluted frontline healthcare workers for their service during the coronavirus pandemic, one doctor in Tamil Nadu was robbed of dignity even in death."
While extending all necessary legal support and service towards safeguarding the rights of those workers fighting COVID-19 head on, the TNAA has urged the State government to take action against the mob for its unruly behaviour and further appealed to the government put in place a mechanism by which such workers could be protected.
"It is imperative that the Government of Tamil Nadu ensures that health workers are allowed to work at all times without risk, regardless of location, and that the patients and health facilities are protected.
"Tragedies like this should be avoided by taking all necessary precautionary measures, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. This attack reflects a worrying trend."
Taking cognisance of this incident, the Madras High Court has, on Monday, issued notice to the State Government on the issue of the Right to Burial being guaranteed as a Fundamental Right under Article 21.
"In the considered opinion of the Court the scope and ambit of Article 21 includes, right to have a decent burial. It prima facie appears that as a consequence of above said alleged acts, a person who practiced a noble profession as a doctor and breathed his last, has been deprived of his right, to have a burial, in a cemetery earmarked for that purpose and that apart, on account of law and order and public order problem created, the officials who have performed their duties, appeared have sustained grievous injuries", observed the Division Bench.
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