Dr Simon’s burial: Cemetery, Church, Controversy

Dr Simon Hercules

Chennai: At a time when many are under the impression that local residents who feared the spread of coronavirus were the only ones to oppose the last rites of  Dr Simon Hercules, who died of Covid-19 earlier this week, a religious angle has emerged now.

It is said that the last wish of  Dr Simon was to bury his body at the Kilpauk Cemetery. However, since he belongs to a particular section of Christianity, people from the other section were opposed to his burial in the cemetery operated by them, it is alleged.

The 55-year-old neurosurgeon was the managing director of a hospital in Chennai. As his family members and officials tried to bury his body, protests erupted, and it was said that people living close to crematorium feared of the spread of coronavirus. Finally, after police intervention and arrests of agitators, his mortal remains were laid to rest.

It is said that the family members of the doctor tried to bury his body at the Kilpauk cemetery as per his wish, but agitation from the other section of their religion, coupled by protests by locals, made them perform the last rites at the Corporation-owned Velangadu crematorium.

Meanwhile, his wife Anandi Simon has made an appeal to Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami asking for reburial. She has placed a request to bury his body as per customs at Kilpauk Cemetery which was Dr Simon’s last wish.

In a video posted on Facebook, Anandi breaks down while asking the Chief Minister to consider her request.

“While Simon was in the hospital ventilator, he had said over a video call that if he does not come back home, he must be buried as per customs at Kilpauk Cemetry. This was his last wish”, Anandi says. Palaniswami spoke to Anandi over phone on Wednesday and expressed his condolences.

On that fateful day, the ambulance driver, sanitary inspector and doctors who were ferrying the body came under severe attack from protesters while they were trying to bury him.

Even the family- Anandi and his teenage son- had to flee the spot to escape from the angry mob. Later, the burial was done at Velangadu with heavy police protection.

Speaking to News Today, Deputy Commissioner, Anna Nagar Muthusamy said, “The violence took place due to ignorance of people living nearby. We have taken action against the protesters. If there is a Government Order for reburial, we will be giving all assistance.”

Meanwhile, the church has clarified that the Kilpauk Cemetery is a closed one as it does not have enough space for a fresh burial.

“No one from the doctor’s family approached us. The said incident has not taken place not in front of Kilpauk cemetery. The untoward incident was said to have taken place at the Corporation Cemetery situated just half a kilometre from our cemetry (Kilpauk)”, a statement said.

According to Mervyn Rajesh of Perambur, “Though the rules and practices are clear, the last wish of the doctor may be considered provided there are no practical difficulties like space and other things.”

Meanwhile, the latest piece of information suggests that the last wish of the doctor would be fulfilled and steps are being taken for that. Hope the controversies surrounding Dr Simon’s burial too would be laid to rest.


Naomi N