Acting Chief Whip Rudranath Indarsingh. Photo: T&T Parliament
NOW that the ban on open pyre funerals for Covid-19 patients has been lifted, Government is being called upon to offer additional financial assistance for the family members of those who have died.
The call comes from Member of Parliament for Couva South Rudranath Indarsingh.
In a media release on Friday, Indarsingh said, “Now that open-air pyre cremations are permitted, I am mindful of the families of Covid-19 victims which faced tremendous financial hardships to bury and cremate their loved ones at higher than usual prices. I am calling on the Government to show tangible remorse for its poor decision making, and to institute a Covid-19 Compassionate Funeral Grant, which would refund a portion of the funeral costs paid by the families of Covid-19 victims.
“These monies can be paid either in the form of a grant or in the form of a tax return which can be claimed by the deceased’s next of kin. In what seems to be a concerning statement and a pyrrhic gesture by the Government, there must be accountability for its irresponsible and injurious decision making, and be held responsible for the damage caused. Our citizens and nation deserve reprieve for the past and better for the future.”
He said that the Government could have avoided legal measures and additional strain especially on Hindu families who have suffered high funeral costs and tweaked their religious rites due to the Covid-19 protocol that previously did not allow for open pyre funerals.
Indarsingh said while he was satisfied that Government was now allowing those funeral rites, there were concerns.
He asked, “What system of protocols is the Government proposing to ensure an efficient and safe conduct of open-air pyre cremations? What framework for sustained consultations with religious groups does the Government intend to engage over the course of managing the pandemic? What will the Government do to ensure that both outdoor and indoor cremations are priced affordably, especially for poor families from being exploited?”
The request to have open-pyre funerals for persons who died a Covid-19 related has been a long-standing one especially from the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) but government had maintained that due to Covid-19, it could not be conducted and the SDMS had filed for judicial review proceedings.