Statesman News Service
KENDRAPARA, Feb. 2. — Superstition and stigma attached to AIDS have unfolded in the most obnoxious manner in a remote village in the district after the death of an HIV-infected person three days back.
The people were so fearful that they had prevented the police from cremating the body of the patient fearing that the smoke that will billow from the pyre would spread the virus.
The victim Pradip Nayak (54) – from Kanapur in Pattamundai — was literally leading a caged life in his ancestral house. He was abandoned by his spouse, two daughters besides the aged mother leaving the man in lurch in his house on the advice of the elderly villagers.
The row over the performance of last rites of the victim began when the deceased’s estranged elder brother was summoned to the village and was told about the fear expressed by the villagers with regard to the burial of the body. The belief that the cremation would vitiate the air and spread the virus from the mortal remains was firmly entrenched on the minds of one and all.
As the villagers maintained a safe distance from the body it was decided to bury the body and reluctant pallbearers that included deceased’s brother wore surgical gloves as a safety measure. Finally, the man was given a decent burial as a motley crowd had assembled at the site to witness the sorry end of the condemned man.