Burying coronavirus victims at Kilgaon-Taltola Graveyard poses a risk of virus transmission, claimed local people.
Animals – including dogs and jackals – frequently traverse the burial ground and damage graves as the yard has no boundary walls. Therefore, it is very likely that the virus will spread via animals, they added.
A local resident named Ramjan Ali said, "The graveyard is not safe."
The two city corporations in Dhaka designated the graveyard for the burial of coronavirus victims on March 29. However, immediately after the decision, locals opposed it and put up a notice at the entrance, asking the authorities concerned not to bury bodies there and to instead find a safer place to inter them – outside of Dhaka.
Local people demanded that the government ensure proper safety measures, including the erection of boundary walls, prior to burying coronavirus victims.
Another resident Hanif said, "We have no problem with the burial of infected corpses if the government ensures proper safety."
Md Suleman said, "Last Wednesday [March 25], when the first coronavirus victim was brought here, all the gravediggers fled. The body remained in an ambulance on the graveyard premises for around four hours."
"Then, some 20-25 local men came forward and buried the body. We arranged namaz-e-janaza [funeral prayers] for it," he added.
Ramjan said, "We have no opposition to the burial of coronavirus victims. However, we demand that boundary walls surrounding the graveyard be constructed as soon as possible."
Mohammed Shahadat Hossain, social welfare officer at Dhaka South City Corporation, said, "We have chosen the graveyard as it has a large space in which to bury all the coronavirus victims in one place, and it will be easy for us to disinfect that area."
Tazina Sarwar, social welfare officer at Dhaka North City Corporation, said, "People were panicked because of misinformation on social media that coronavirus can infect them immediately after touching an infected body."
"However, we convinced them on March 25 – the day a coronavirus victim was buried there."
Admitting that all eight gravediggers fled the scene that day, she said, "Three of them came back. Also, we have planned to use an excavator to dig graves if necessary."
"We have provided the people engaged in the burial task with masks, gloves and bottles of hand sanitiser. We will also give them personal protection equipment soon," she added.
Mofajjel, a gravedigger who, along with two others, joined the work, said, "We fled the scene because we were afraid but returned when we were given protective gear."
"From now on, we will dig graves for anyone – irrespective of their cause of death," he added.
Shakhawat Hossain, a local councillor, said, "The construction of boundary walls is under process. We are currently setting the spot for the burial."
Dhaka has nine cemeteries. Among those, the DSCC has two graveyards while the DNCC has seven.
Among the five killed by coronavirus in Bangladesh, four have been buried in Dhaka – one in Azimpur Graveyard, two in the Mirpur Martyred Intellectuals' Graveyard and one in the Khilgaon-Taltola Graveyard.