File Photo: Shore of the Peace cremation site, South Oropouche.

The Government has agreed to change its prohibition against open-air cremations for Covid-19.

The decision was announced by Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs in a press release issued, a short while ago, following a meeting between Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, his legal Fyard Hosein, SC, and the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), which was represented by its spiritual head Dharmacharya Pundit Dr Rampersad Parasram and legal advisor Dinesh Rambally.

The meeting was initiated by Al-Rawi after receiving authorization from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley following a meeting between him (Rowley), key Cabinet Ministers and public health officals of the Ministry of Health led by Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram on Wednesday.

The release stated that the decision came after broad consideration of recent developments and current factors related to the ongoing management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Government was not in a position to have come to this decision any sooner and remains grateful for patience and understanding in the management of the ravages caused by the Covid-19 pandemic
in which thousands of persons have tragically lost their lives in our beloved country,” the release said.

It also praised the SDMS and its representatives for the part they played in resolving the issue.

“The Dharmacharya who is himself a past Chief Medical Officer has provided immense assistance to the Government in arriving at the current position,” it said.

“Equally, Mr. Rambally as the SDMS’s legal advisor has adopted a most conciliatory approach in ventilating the SDMS’ position in this matter of the grant of permission for members of the Hindu faith to conduct open pyre/air cremations for Covid-19
victims,” it added.

It stated that such cremations will resume as soon as protocols and guidelines are completed and published including further recommendations, which are to be submitted by the SDMS.

In its press release, the SDMS thanked Rowley and Al-Rawi for their consideration on the issue.

“When the leaders of our country work together great things can be achieved!” it said.

“The Maha Sabha will continue to work in the best interest of the Hindu community and we are already proceeding to prepare certain guidance on cremation rites, to the Attorney General, which will
help to inform the drafting of protocols moving forward,” it said.

It also thanked it legal team led by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj for its legal advice and for a lawsuit over the issue, which was filed late last year.

Based on the change in position, the case, which is scheduled to go to trial next month, would become academic and may be withdrawn.

Reporter: Derek Achong