Tamil Nadu

‘Giving a decent burial amounts to serving God’

Volunteers of Social Democratic Party of India carrying the body of a 55-year-old man to the burial ground at Ameerunnisa Begum Sahiba Endowments at Royapettah on Thursday. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Volunteers of Social Democratic Party of India carrying the body of a 55-year-old man to the burial ground at Ameerunnisa Begum Sahiba Endowments at Royapettah on Thursday. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam  

Volunteers of a few outfits work for the burial of COVID-19 victims in Chennai and Puducherry

Volunteers of certain religious and political organisations have been working to bury those who died of COVID-19 as their families are unable to perform the last rites on account of various factors.

M.Nagoor Meeran, State secretary of Popular Front of India, says after coming across the recent instance in which the body of a Chennai resident was dumped in a burial pit in Puducherry, the organisation approached the authorities in the Union Territory to undertake burial if relatives were unable to do so. “We have received calls from some hospitals in Chennai too to bury such bodies. We have undertaken burial of 63 bodies in Chennai and 11 in Puducherry,” he claims.

Those engaged in the burial follow the safety guidelines prescribed by the World Health Organisation and the State Health Department. In some cases, family members have approached the volunteers to give a decent burial to a deceased kin following which the body is taken from the hospital to the burial ground.

The volunteers, sometimes, follow the mortuary van from the hospital to the burial ground where the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) workers dig the pit. After performing rituals, the volunteers, clad in personal protection equipment (PPEs), lay the body on a large piece of cloth and lower it into the pit taking precaution not to come into accidental contact with the body.

“Sometimes, rituals are performed according to the belief and custom of the relatives of the deceased. Our job is to lower the body into the pit and close it properly with assistance from GCC workers. As per guidelines, the pit has to be 12 feet deep. We have a team of volunteers who readily offer their services. We have buried 69 bodies and also cremated two bodies,” said A.K.Kareem, a co-ordinator of SDPI.

M.S. Kursheed Hussain, a coordinator of Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, said, “Everything is done free of cost. We are serving the people irrespective of their religion. There should not be any disrespect to the deceased. Giving decent burial is serving god.” He claims the TMMK has handled burial of 86 bodies in Chennai. He adds that even when some family members offer money, the volunteers politely decline to accept it.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 12:44:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/giving-a-decent-burial-is-serving-god/article31938530.ece

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