Sri Lanka makes cremations compulsory for COVID-19 victims, but Muslims and activists urge authorities to allow burials.
The grief-stricken family of Zubair Fathima Rinosa in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo is demanding justice and explanation after tests, released two days after her body had been cremated, showed that the 44-year-old Muslim woman did not die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Mohammed Sajid, one of Rinosa's four sons, said his mother was cremated on May 5 as part of Sri Lanka's controversial policy of mandatory cremation of all coronavirus victims in violation of traditional Islamic funeral practices.
He says his brother signed a consent form for cremation under duress from authorities.
However, two days later, Rinosa's test results showed she did not die of coronavirus. "On May 7, we learned through a media release that there had been an error in the initial testing of my mother for the virus. She did not die of COVID-19," he said.
Sajid said his father cried "painfully" after it emerged that his mother was "wrongfully" cremated.
"My father was crying nonstop. He kept saying: 'I can accept someday that she is gone, but not that she was cremated."