Downtown

Giving the dead a decent farewell

M.V. Ramani has so far arranged for the burial of 1,000 unclaimed bodies. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It is a quiet afternoon at Arya Gowda Road, West Mambalam. The quiet is disturbed when someone notices a man lying outside Ayodhya Mandapam.

Soon, a crowd gathers around the man. Some try to wake him up. Some try to read his pulse. The man is dead. Some search his pockets, looking for an identity card. Meanwhile, someone has called M.V. Ramani, managing trustee, Jeevathma Kainkarya Trust, West Mamabalam. The Trust helps bury unknown/unclaimed bodies with the help of the police department.

Ramani promptly inform the police before rushing to the scene. Ramani and the police face several problems in taking the body to a government hospital. A call is made to a private ambulance. The policemen pay for the trip.

Ramani started this service, as per his grandfather’s advice, immediately after he graduated from the Government Arts College, Tiruvarur.

To give unclaimed bodies a decent burial, he would collect paddy and other produce from the fields, sell them and use the profit for the purpose. As it was a village, there were very few formalities and he used to get funds from temples.

After coming to the city in 1978, he could not continue the service as the formalities were too many and they were complicated. In 2004, he started Jeevathma Kainkarya Trust to restart it all.

A follower of Paramacharya, Ramani says: In the third volume of ‘ Deivathin Kural’, Paramacharya appeals to the people that unclaimed bodies should be cremated/buried at the earliest.

Ramani has so far buried 1,000 unclaimed bodies across the city. “It costs around Rs.1,000 to dispose of a body and we depend on donations. Tec Bio Science Pvt. Ltd. has offered help by way of donating a van.”

A police personnel said: Many unclaimed bodies are kept in various government hospitals and are not disposed of due to non-availability of funds and other facilities. These bodies are not only the responsibility of the government, but the public’s too.

Recently, Ramani filed an RTI with several government hospitals in the city asking for the number of unclaimed bodies lying in the mortuaries. He has also sought permission from the Chief Justice for filing a PIL to streamline the disposal of unclaimed bodies through the Police Department. Additionally, he has sent a letter to the Additional Commissioner of Police requesting him to call for a meeting with NGOs that provide a decent burial for destitutes, to discuss the issue.

Ramani says, “As per an existing G.O., the hospitals/mortuaries should not keep the unclaimed bodies for more than ten days. But it is not happening.”

With regard to the future plans, he says the State can form a district and State-level committee that is headed by the Secretary Health and Family Welfare Department and other related departments, and consists of NGOs to find a solution to this problem. Ramani can be contacted at 9841012779.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 7:25:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/jeevathma-kainkarya-trust-west-mambalam-gives-a-decent-burial-to-unclaimed-bodies/article7619255.ece

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