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Social worker stands by the dead

Hazaribagh-based social worker Mohammed Khalid, cremating unclaimed bodies for a decade, was sought by authorities in the capital on Thursday to perform the last rites of 55 people.

Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) director Tulsi Mahto requested Khalid for the job, which the latter will perform within a fortnight after some formalities.

All the 55 bodies at the state-run hospital mortuary had been recovered from police stations in and around the capital in the past one year.

Khalid also met Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey on the matter.

The deputy commissioner issued a letter to Dipankar Panda, the chief executive officer of Ranchi Municipal Corporation, directing to provide us with kerosene oil and wood, Khalid said.

He added he only asked for the cost of wood and kerosene. I will bear all other costs, including that of ferrying the bodies from the RIMS mortuary to the banks of Jamuar river, Ormanjhi, for last rites, he added.

For the philanthropist, this is the third summons since 2010 from the state-run RIMS in the capital.

Unlike most social workers who work for the uplift of the living, Khalid, a pathologist by profession, works for the peace of the dead. Now in his early fifties, he has cremated more than 750 bodies since the past decade under the aegis of the outfit founded by him, Murda Kalyan Samiti.

He can also be hailed as a secular symbol. Being from the minority community, not only does he cremate the dead, he also goes to Varanasi to immerse their ashes. If any among the dead is identified as a person of another faith, he arranges a burial.

I cant bear the insult of the dead, he said. I try to give each the respect of a kin.