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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Hindu families exploited by funeral homes in Trindad & Tobago

The Hindu community vis-a-vis Covid is being exploited by institutions that are supposed to serve and protect its welfare. Worse, is the inability of Hindus to be objective, that is, to remove the rose-colored lenses and acknowledge reality.

Hindu families who are victims of Covid have to fork out huge sums of money, beginning at $17,000 for a cremation and running to as high as $25,000. Many of them opt for funeral agencies that the families have been using in the past, unaware that the said services are available for $12,000.

Hindu families must be taught to shop around and not fall victims to ethnic loyalty. After all, we are not black but brown! A funeral agency is supposed to provide its services at a competitive cost without compromising standards.

Covid 19 has released a culture of greed within our subconscious mind. Imagine, a young man died suddenly after complaining of not feeling well. A few days later, with no autopsy done, the deceased was declared a victim of Covid. Shocked, the family employed the services of a prominent pathologist to conduct a Covid test at a cost of $2200. A negative result was declared but two days later the hospital called and confirmed that the deceased is positive.

In the legal challenge in the Court of Appeal to review the government’s ban on open-air cremation, Dr. Farley R. Cleghorn, a specialist epidemiologist, declared that there is “no medical or scientific justification for the blanket ban of open-air cremation”.

Despite that ruling by the Appeal Court that there is merit in reviewing the decision of the government, the High Court is yet to make a decision on the ban. Why is the High Court not treating this ban on open- air cremation with urgency?

The challenge to the government’s decision to ban open-air cremation came from Cindy-Ann Ramsaroop-Persad and not from any prominent Hindu organizations and other sawathis who parade themselves as guardians of the Hindu community. The reality is that Covid 19 deaths are a lucrative source of income for not only the funeral agencies but also the pandits, his assistants, and the pooja shops off course. It is a happy season for them while families drown in debt and sorrow!

Why is Anand Ramlogan always challenging the State and its decisions? More so he goes at length to provide precedents and laws to support his arguments. In the case to review of the ban on open-air cremation before the Appeal Court, he had as a witness Dr. Farley R. Cleghorn to strengthen his argument. Had Ramlogan been representing the State he would only have to argue that the ruling of the government is “not judicially reviewable”. Win, lose or draw, it would have been the taxpayers to meet the costs of whichever decision is handed down! Anyway, it appears that Anand Ramlogan likes it so!

I must say hats off to Cindy-Ann Ramsaroop-Persad for challenging the ruling of the State. This is a most courageous action that many who shout Hindutva and gesture about protecting Hindu dharma would find difficult to muster the testicular fortitude to do.

Hindu society has lived on because we are not afraid to deal with social reality. Nevertheless, there was always a Pritviraj Chauhan, Bhadase Maharaj and today an Anand Ramlogan and a Cindy-Ann to stand up and fight.

A villager died from Covid and when the body was taken to the agency for the last rites, the number of people to be allowed was confined to 10. The owner of the agency was very generous and allowed all present to witness the final rites because “I understand he was a very nice person” but not nice enough for a discount. The final price was $25,000.

-By Dool Hanomansingh

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