IMPHAL: Alleging that victim families of the deceased due to COVID-19 have been charged Rs.15,000 as cremation and labour charge by the Imphal Municipal Corporation (IMC), Social & Cultural Activist Rakesh Naorem has drawn the attention of the Chief Minister and concerned department in this regard.
Addressing reporters at Manipur Press Club, Rakesh Naorem said that charging cremation labour fee by the government instead of helping the victim family mourning for loss of their dear ones has amounted to scaling up woes of the victim family, which is quite unacceptable on humanitarian ground.
Despite the announcement of the Chief Minister N. Biren that concerned families of COVID-19 victims will not be charged any fee for cremation of dead bodies, Rakesh said that one IMC official namely Md Anawar Ali collected Rs. 15,000 as cremation and labour charge from the victim family of one Sanabam Tombi Singh (90) of Wangkhei Pukhrambam Leirak who expired on Monday due to COVID-19. The IMC official also made the victim family sign on an APR paper.
Besides, there was an incident in which IMC officials collected above Rs.15,000 as cremation fee from the victim family of one Sanasam Romeba of Tentha Khingbal, who died due to COVID-19. There are several complaints surrounding the alleged collection of cremation fees from the victim families.
Considering the plight of the victim families, state government should come out with a concrete COVID-19 policy, apart from constructing a dedicated crematorium for COVID-19 dead bodies, Rakesh said.
Theatre Director Dr. Sanabam Thaninleima, daughter of Sanabam Tombi (COVID-19 victim) said that her father expired at RIMS on November 29 at 7:00 PM. As demanded by IMC officials, she handed over Rs. 15,000 for cremation of her father.
“If the poor victim families cannot afford such an amount, is the government going to leave the COVID-19 dead bodies un-cremated and unattended?” she questioned.
Recounting that cremation of her late father who died on November 29 was delayed with RIMS authority failing to send a report to DC in time, she questioned as to why RIMS took a long time in sending the report to the concerned DC for cremation of the dead body. In Meetei culture, victim family members avoid food until the last ritual of the dead body is performed. Her family had to suffer long without food due to the delay in the cremation process.