Tiruchirapalli

This worker has cremated over 3,000 bodies in 15 years

A. Nagarajan, Tiruchi GH’s only sanitary worker in charge of cremating patients who died of COVID -19.

A. Nagarajan, Tiruchi GH’s only sanitary worker in charge of cremating patients who died of COVID -19.

A. Nagarajan, the sole corporation sanitary worker deputed to Tiruchi Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital, has cremated over 3,000 unidentified bodies over the last 15 years. While earlier the patients had died of accidents or communicable diseases like chicken pox or dengue, these days, a majority of the patients died of COVID-19.

The 49-year-old man began his career as a sanitary worker in the Tiruchi Corporation, after which he was deputed to the GH 15 years ago. His role: to bury unidentified and unclaimed bodies at the crematoria within the city. "To me, a government employee is a servant to the people. My job is to be of service to the people and I have been doing that with conviction," he said.

Mr. Nagarajan's day starts with going to the mortuary at the Tiruchi GH and taking stock of the bodies. The authorities would indicate unidentified bodies and ask him to take them to cremate at the Oyamari crematorium. Nowadays, a large number of those bodies are COVID-19 deaths, he said.

The peculiar nature with COVID-19 bodies is that while family members are available, they cannot take part in the cremation. "Many reach out to me when they see me take the body and ask me to perform the last rites in a certain way, by chanting some prayers. It is painful to watch," Mr. Nagarajan said.

Mr. Nagarajan's family has been very supportive of his work. “Although they have not expressed any concern or fear, I make sure that everyone is safe,” he said. “During the peaks of both the waves, I slept at the entrance of the house and did not enter inside except to take bath,” he said.


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Printable version | May 29, 2022 2:35:18 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/this-worker-has-cremated-over-3000-bodies-in-15-years/article38340433.ece