A day after a video of sanitation workers are seen transporting mortal remains of two coronavirus patients on a JCB excavator went viral on social media in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed shock and anguish, saying the act was inhuman.
Taking cognizance of the incident, Jagan Reddy not only condemned the incident, terming it a “major breach of protocol and inhuman” but also instructed the district officials to take immediate action against those responsible.
Post the chief minister’s order, the concerned municipality chief and another officer were suspended.
In a tweet, CM Jagan Mohan Reddy said, “It is the time to show humanity, but the way few acted, it hurt. Incidents like these should not be repeated elsewhere. Stringent action will be taken on those responsible.”
While this sums up one part of the entire incident, there is another aspect to it that needs to be highlighted as well.
Utterly shocked to see the deceased bodies of #Coronavirus victims wrapped in plastic & transported on JCBs & Tractors. They deserve respect & dignity even in death. Shame on @ysjagan Govt for this inhumane treatment of the mortal remains pic.twitter.com/BobjAdIZC8
— N Chandrababu Naidu #StayHomeSaveLives (@ncbn) June 26, 2020
The incident highlighted the need to ‘destigmatize’ all aspects related to the virus. CM Jagan Reddy has reiterated the need to get rid of the stigma in almost every speech of his in the recent past.
As per reports, the neighbours of the victim in question refused to wait until the ambulance arrived due to which the staff on the ground were compelled to take the drastic and unacceptable step.
While the top brass of the government has condemned the incident and action has been taken, one also needs to look at what led to the neighbours behaving this way.
This problem of stigma isn’t limited to Andhra Pradesh. In a recent press conference, the Telangana health minister had addressed the same concern. He said, “It is disturbing how burial grounds aren’t allowing bodies of Covid patients to be cremated.”
Multiple other incidents of social boycotting were reported from cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
Incidents of health workers being attacked by people have also stormed the internet in the recent past.