With the coronavirus gripping the entire world and spreading fear among people, there are these people who are trying to make things better not only for those who are living and fighting the pandemic but also for the dead. The Mumbai Juma Masjid Trust of the Bada Kabristan in Marine Lines, Mumbai, is cremating Hindus who are dying of coronavirus, along with burying Muslims dying from the virus.
As the bodies of COVID-19 patients continue piling up and are leaving frontline workers out of options to dispose of the bodies, the trust is proving to be a boon in such testing times. The trust is run by seven members and about 70 volunteers and they are helping with the funerals of everyone killed by the virus, irrespective of faith.
Since April 2020, volunteers have cremated over 200 Hindu bodies.
When the trust started performing last rites of people who died of coronavirus, the civic body had warned the burial ground trust of strict action because some local corporators and MLAs had objected to the burial of COVID-19 victims from outside the C ward. But with the disease becoming a pandemic and people getting scared of being present at the last rites of COVID-19 bodies, the trust started doing its bit without any hindrances.
Performing last rites respectfully
The trust came forward to help due to an increasing number of Hindus dead due to COVID-19. Iqbal Mamdani, a former journalist who has been helping the trust, said, "Not cremating corpses at the earliest is disrespect to the dead."
Mamdani added, "When the hospitals came to know that we are cremating or burying the bodies, they started contacting us directly and even the police starting contacting us."
Bada Kabristan is one of the oldest and largest burial grounds for the Muslim community in the city. It is a 7.5-acre cemetery.
Mamdani added that when the bodies arrived at the burial ground, only numbers and addresses were given. The volunteers tried contacting their family members who were either under quarantine or were extremely scared to come and do the needful. So, the trust started claiming the bodies and performing their last rites.
The trust uses a sanitizer machine and liquid. When the bodies arrive, they sanitize the bodies.
Several teams have been formed like Western suburbs, Eastern suburbs, Town, etc to help the trust. Mamdani said that there was no problem in burying the Muslim bodies but challenges were there for cremating Hindus and following this, the trust contacted priests and people from cremation grounds to ensure that the last rites of Hindu bodies were done in a proper manner.
It should be noted that in several parts of the country, people dying of COVID-19 were not allowed to be cremated or buried. The bodies were not handled properly and were literally dumped into pits and graves due to the fear of contracting the virus. The Govt later formed proper guidelines for handling bodies of people who died due to the coronavirus.