Kollam, Kerala: After 31 days of being mired in controversy over maintenance of a Church cemetery near here in Kerala, the funeral of a 75-year-old woman took place on Thursday morning amid tight security.

The bishop of the Mar Thoma Church led the funeral prayers.

Annamma died on May 14 of old age complications. However, her funeral could not happen as some locals were demanding proper maintenance of the cemetery, built in 1999, claiming that seepages from it were polluting nearby wells and streams.

They cited a Kerala High Court order that said the cemetery should be used only after proper modernisation.

“28 families live here and this is the first funeral that has taken place after 2014. We have been living in fear. Due to this cemetery our wells are contaminated. Earlier, this cemetery was used by various churches. But not any more. Bodies of only this church members would be interred here,” a resident said.

The High Court, in an order, had said the funeral should take place after the side walls of the grave where Annamma’s body would be laid to rest were freshly concreted.

John C. Chacko, parish vicar of the church where the funeral took place, said the cemetery has now been refurbished as per the directions of the High Court.

“The construction was overseen by the engineers of the Public Works Department. The funeral service went off with a strong police force keeping the protesters away,” Chacko said.

Annamma’s grandson Rahul heaved a sigh of relief and said the ordeal was finally over.