Rauff Hakeem's Comments Not Permitting A Burial For Second COVID19 Spark Major Controversy: SLMC Leader Under Fire For Controversial Remarks

SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem's statement on the cremation of the second patient who died due to COVID19 in Sri Lanka has sparked a major controversy.

Many political activists have called him out for inciting communalism while the country is undergoing a massive crisis. Hakeem expressed concerns over the decision to not permit a burial for the second victim, a Muslim, who died yesterday.

Hakeem said, "It is unfortunate, regrettable and of course reprehensible that the Janaza of the Negombo Victim of the Covid 19 virus had been cremated without permitting the burial as is ordained in our faith. We tried our best in whatever manner possible in the given circumstances to get higher political and medical authorities to intervene to prevent the hurried cremation. Dr Suhail from B’coloa Teaching Hospital who is an office bearer of the GMOA along with Seyed Ali Zahir Moulana former State Minister and MP had been very active until late last night trying to convince authorities on the need to respect religious sensitivities and requirements while disposing of bodies even in such emergency pandemic situation. Though originally burial as an option in Negombo was explored, we are told that burial 10 feet below ground level was not possible due to the high water table and possible seepage of water into the grave.

Subsequently arrangements had been made to bury at Maligawatte burial grounds in Colombo. The request to transport the Janaza to Colombo had apparently been refused by the JMO. Apparently Magisterial inquest had also been resorted to probably out of abundance of caution by authorities in Negombo,though it may not be strictly necessary since the cause of death is certain.

There apparently had been some indecent hurry to cremate the body disregarding the anxiety and requests by the family members.

The GMOA I am told is in support of our position. I have now been appraised about a meeting currently going on between JMO members and the DGHS about the possibility of revising the circular. While we must insist on our religious rights let us handle this issue in a pragmatic and meaningful way given the precarious situation we are in. I am posting this message to ask our brothers and sisters to exercise caution when commenting on this matter however outraged me may feel.

Discretion is better part of valour my friends in these trying times!

I will post a well-researched note prepared by Justice Saleem Marsoof PC, titled ‘Disposal of bodies of Covid 19 victims: A Muslim perspective’ so that we fully understand our rights on this important issue at this critical juncture."

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