‘Nobody should be deprived of their last rites’
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‘Nobody should be deprived of their last rites’

Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal, an NGO, has stepped forward to give the deceased a noble farewell

‘Nobody should be deprived of their last rites’

New Delhi: The view across the entire country is heartbreaking right now. The rising number of deaths due to Covid are making headlines and to add to the misery, people are facing problems in getting the last rites of their loved ones done peacefully. They are waiting with the bodies for days to get cremated at a time when they need emotional support. They are wandering in search of the crematorium with the Covid dead bodies. Mass cremations are getting done every day with a lot of difficulties.

However, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal, an NGO started in 1996 by Jagannath Singh Shanti has stepped forward to give the deceased a noble farewell. “Nobody should be deprived of their last rites,” says Manish, an active member of Shaheed Bhagat Sewa Dal.  He also added that during the first wave of COVID-19, they were  cremating 30-40 Covid bodies but as of now, the situation is so bad that there are 80-100 Covid bodies in a day. They  collect bodies from mortuary and get calls from people including the police. They take precautions according to the corona protocols and then cremate the body. If a family member wants to join, they can come, if not, they can cremate them without their presence. Manish says, “Most of the families do not come because they are quarantined.”

The NGO gets around 700-800 calls on a daily basis. “We have seen young people dying, a few weeks ago, there was a 28 years old woman who was soon going to become a mother but she got Covid symptomatic and died. The family insisted on saving the baby at least, but both mother and child were cremated. Later, a 14 years old girl who recovered and came back home, lost her life after a few days and was cremated by us. A  brother and sister were searching for a bed for their father, he died in the car after 12 hours of searching, further they searched for a place to cremate their father, finally, they were crossing our Seema Shamsaan Ghat, and requested us to help them in cremation, we took the body from the car and cremated their father.”, says Manish. He also added that many people neglect to come and just ask for photos after the cremation is done. They have also witnessed people who die in agonising conditions due to a lack of health resources.

“There was a Christian family who came to us for help to cremate a body and it was done according to our rituals just because there was no space in their burial grounds,” says Manish. Now more than 100 covid dead bodies are coming daily. “Our whole team has been Covid positive at some point now except for three people. We were Covid positive last year but now we are okay. Volunteers are driving the ambulances since drivers are on holiday due to Covid. We are facing lots of challenges, we don’t have wood for the cremation, it is the situation of every crematorium  ground,” he said.

He later added that there is a shortage of manpower, people are willing to volunteer but they try not to take if they have a family to feed or are very young since walking to the crematorium every day is very infectious. “A man, 55, came to us to volunteer, serving for quite a long time with us, carrying many dead covid bodies, he said I am willing to serve no matter what happens to me. An  advocate is also going to join us soon” says Manish. He also shared that they have run out of space now, people are fighting all over to get space for cremation. They are doing cremation in the  parking space of the crematorium due to mass cremation. They are  cremating the dead bodies at the distance of 1-2 foot spacing. The volunteers are wearing PPE kits throughout the day during these exhausting summer days, they don’t even get time to drink water to make sure it doesn't get contaminated.

Manish also added that they fear if they also get symptomatic then who will serve these dead bodies. For the people waiting for the cremation, the NGO arranges water bottles, covers the area with tents, and arranges food for the  people. They are facing a shortage of ambulances but trying their best to make it through for as many people as they can, they have not taken any help from the authorities, they were self-sufficient but Covid has changed many things for them. But a lot of people have stepped in to help, as they were facing a shortage of wood, so some of the people are helping for this matter. The NGO appeals to people not to give them any money but contribute by giving things that they need. They live by with only one fear that if they get infectious then cremation will be done on roads.

For free help in cremation, contact on this number:

Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal- 07065333313