The stringent Goondas Act has been invoked against 14 people, including a woman, who has been arrested in Chennai for allegedly attacking health workers while protesting the burial of a doctor who had died of COVID-19.
The city police on Friday (May 1) said the persons were detained under the act as part of crime prevention activities. “The 14 people have repeatedly involved in criminal activities and therefore detained under the Goondas Act following Commissioner of Police A K Viswanathan’s order,” they said in a release.
They had been booked for damaging the ambulance and assaulting the driver when the neurosurgeon’s body was taken for burial in an area last month. Police arrested nearly 20 people in connection with the incident, that drew widespread condemnation and prompted the government to promulgate an ordinance making such acts a punishable offence.
The mob, protesting the burial in their locality, attacked the undertakers using bricks, stones, bottles and sticks and chased them away. Later, an orthopaedic surgeon had to bury the body in the midnight using his bare hands and a shovel at another crematorium with the help of just two ward boys.
Earlier, the police had warned of stringent action against those blocking the burial or cremation of victims of COVID-19. The Tamil Nadu government promulgated the ordinance, making it a punishable offence, preventing or attempting to block the burial or cremation of those who died of the deadly contagion.
Such an offence would carry a jail term ranging from one to three years, besides a fine, it had said. In an earlier instance, the remains of a doctor who succumbed to coronavirus had to be buried elsewhere following protests by locals. In both cases, the locals feared the spread of the pandemic in the locality if the bodies were buried in the respective areas.