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India

Indian state short of graveyards for Covid-19 victims

Church leaders in Telangana ask minister to speed up allotment of land for burial ground

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Indian state short of graveyards for Covid-19 victims

A health worker collects a swab at a Covid-19 testing booth in Hyderabad in Telangana state on Aug. 10. (Photo: AFP)

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Church leaders from various denominations in the southern Indian state of Telangana have pleaded for land for a graveyard for Covid-19 victims.

They told Scheduled Castes Development and Minority Welfare Minister Koppula Eshwar on Aug. 13 about the shortage of graveyards in Kurmalguda, Balapur and other places.

“We have been allotted one acre of land but it is not yet handed over to us, nor has the government given the notification. People are still facing hardship to bury Covid-19 victims,” Father Joseph Arlagadda, deputy secretary of Telugu Regional Bishops' Council (TRBC), told UCA News.

“Allotment of the land is still pending at the government’s end, but we thank the government for the land. At many places in the state, there are reports of protests about the burial of Covid-19 victims. The minister agreed to look at the case and asked us to give him details in writing.”

Roydin Roach, Telangana president of the All India Catholic Union who led the delegation, asked Eshwar to form a committee with members representing the Protestant and Catholic communities.

The delegation had representatives from the Church of South India, Free Methodist Church, Harvest Ministry, Evangelical Mission, Sion Fellowship and Baptist Church. The Catholic Church was represented by Father Arlagadda and fellow priests Raju Alex and V.K. Swamy.

Father Anthoniraj Thumma, executive secretary of the Federation of Telugu Churches (FTC), told UCA News that the FTC and other Christian organizations have been demanding new graveyards for some years as the present ones are full.

“The Telangana government has identified about 40 acres of land in various locations in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). The FTC has addressed letters to the chief minister and minorities welfare minister to include representatives of churches and major denominations in the committees being set up for GMHC Christian burial grounds along with local officials," he said.

“There is an apprehension that self-styled organizations made up of individual Christians are trying to take hold of these committees for their benefit.”

Telangana had reported 88,396 Covid-19 cases with 674 deaths of Aug. 14.

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