VIJAYAWADA: In yet another incident of denial of funeral rites fearing spread of Covid-19, the relatives of an old woman were made to run from pillar to post to find place in a crematorium in Guntur district. Andhra Pradesh has thus far witnessed at least a dozen incidents where Covid-19 patients were denied burial or cremation, forcing the police to intervene.
Mourning family members preparing to perform the last rites of a 65-year-old woman were in for a rude shock after they found the Smashana Vatika (crematorium) gates locked by locals at Naganna Kunta village of Sattenapalli mandal in Guntur district. The villagers demanded that the relatives produce a certificate proving she was Covid-19 free.
According to Sattenapalli police, the woman had been suffering from age-related ailments long before the pandemic broke out. However, doctors conducted a test for Covid-19 a few days before her demise. After she was pronounced dead by doctors, her family members took her to the crematorium for last rites. The villagers locked the crematorium and prevented the body from taking inside. The relatives later kept the body at their residence for several hours till the police intervened.
Family members said that they had complained to officials, who allowed the last rites to be conducted. Sources said that the woman’s test results eventually turned out to be negative.
This isn’t the first time that locals denied funeral rites to people due to Covid-19 scare. On April 27, an owner of a prominent restaurant in Guntur city, was cremated rather than buried after he succumbed to Covid-19. The minorities commission had taken cognizance of the cremation.
The district administration reportedly attempted to perform his final rites at Gujjanagundla burial grounds the same day but failed as locals protested. A day later, the body was taken to a crematorium in Gujjanagundla where it was cremated. In Chittoor and Kurnool districts too there were instances where locals opposed the burial of Covid-19 victims.

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