Telangana

Good Samaritans go beyond religion in performing last rites for COVID-19 victims

Yakoob Bi performs the last rites of a 70-year-old Hindu man Veeraswamy who died in their old age home.  

Caste and creed have become irrelevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, with people from different faiths coming forward to perform the last rites of deceased people from other religions.

At a time when close family members and relations shy away from ensuring decent last rites for their near and dear ones, the task of performing such rituals is falling on Good Samaritans.

Humanity is in full bloom as voluntary organisations and individuals are coming forward to show their humane side in the otherwise gloomy atmosphere due to the ever-increasing COVID deaths.

A group of seven people has carved a role for itself in Jagtial district. Bilalpur New Youth Welfare Society (of all Muslim persons) arranged the last rites for 210 Hindus and 73 Muslims who died of COVID in the past six months.

Without discriminating on the basis of religion or caste, the group led by Mohammed Muneer (48), a plumber and an electrician from Korutla, dispose of the bodies as per the religious practice of the dead.

“In Islam, we bury, while in the Hindu community they cremate or some group bury. But, ultimately every human being deserves a decent resting place,” said Mr. Muneer said.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said that family members of several COVID-19 victims were not coming forward for the last rites fearing they would contract the virus, and so the group decided to help the families in shifting the bodies from houses to ambulances to burial/ cremation grounds in Jagtial, Korutla and Metpally towns in the district.

The group was formed by like-minded people who witnessed the agony of a family of a COVID victim in Nirmal district. “The authorities dug a big pit and dumped his body into it. That inhuman incident moved me and we formed a group to help the dead,” Mr. Muneer said.

He said that in the last one month they cremated 117 dead bodies in the Jagtial district, and the number varies from official figures.

Similarly, a Muslim couple in the Warangal is setting an example that religion does not matter when it comes to providing decent last rites for the deceased.

Forty-seven-year-old Md. Mahaboob Ali and his 42-year-old wife Yakoob Bi, who run Sahrudaya Home for Orphans and Aged in Warangal, have endeared themselves to the locals with their selfless service.

Last month, the couple performed the last rites of a 70-year-old Hindu man Veeraswamy, who died in the old age home. They shouldered the responsibility and conducted the funeral as per Hindu traditions.

“When someone is abandoned and has nobody to take care, how can we turn a blind eye to such a situation? Veeraswamy was with us for two years. My wife came forward to carry out the last rites in true Hindu tradition,” Mahaboob Ali alias Chotu told The Hindu.

In the last one year, the old age home has conducted last rites of 10 inmates of different faiths. “We don’t differentiate on the basis of whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Christian or others. Once a person is no more, we inform their immediate family members. In the last 14 months, due to COVID, no one has come forward. So it is up to us to perform their last rites as per their religion,” Ms. Bi remarked.

The old age home has 80 inmates and so far none of them had contracted Coronavirus, said Mr. Ali, who does civil work and other minor contracts to run the old aged home.

As the news of the couple’s gesture made headlines, two Muslim ambulance drivers of Banswada town in the Kamareddy district too won accolades for their good deed. A COVID-19 positive patient Moghaliah died in Banswada hospital while undergoing treatment. His family members from Peddakodapgal village in Pitlam Mandal refused to organise the funeral. It was left to ambulance drivers Shafi and Ali to perform the last rites.


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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 8:13:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/good-samaritans-go-beyond-religion-in-performing-last-rites-for-covid-19-victims/article34532386.ece

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