In a letter to chief secretaries of all states and union territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla flagged a few heinous instances of unruly behaviour by people where the families and relatives of medical professionals, suspected to have died due to COVID-19 infection, were prevented from performing the last rites of the deceased.
The letter said, in such cases, adequate security should be provided and stringent action should be taken against such offenders who obstruct the performance of last rites of medical professionals or frontline healthcare workers, who, unfortunately, succumb to the infection from COVID-19 while discharging their services.
Union Home Secretary Bhalla asked state governments and union territory administrations to appoint nodal officers at state or union territory level and at district level, who would be available 24×7 to redress any safety issue on the functioning of medical professionals. The Union Home Secretary said necessary police security should also be extended to doctors and other medical staff who visit places to conduct screening of people to find out symptoms of disease.
Union Home Secretary Bhalla urged the states and union territories to invoke provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 or any other law in force, to take strict penal action against the offenders who obstruct government health officials or other health professionals or related persons, who are authorised under the said act in the discharge of their lawful services.
The Union Home Secretary said, at this time, any single incident of violence against healthcare professionals is likely to create a sense of insecurity amongst the entire healthcare community.
He also drew attention of the chief secretaries to the April 8 direction of the Supreme Court where it had directed Centre, States, UTs and Police authorities to provide the necessary security to the doctors and medical staff in hospitals and places where patients who have been diagnosed COVID-19 or patients suspected of COVID-19 or those quarantined are housed.