Ranchi, Oct. 14: As many as 55 bodies lying unclaimed this year at the state-run Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) mortuary finally got cremated today according to Hindu rites at Jumar river ghat in Ranchi, thanks to Hazaribagh-based social worker Mohammed Khalid.
Khalid, who has “cremated 750 unclaimed bodies in the past 16 years” across the state, arrived in the capital with his team on Saturday night.
He added Ranchi Municipal Corporation had offered wood and kerosene to burn the bodies.
“Money for other activities was raised through collection in Hazaribagh and other places. The bodies were cremated at 11am today according to Hindu rituals. Just as every living person has right to food, livelihood and other facilities, every dead person deserves the respect of last rites,” said Khalid, a pathologist by profession.
This wasn’t the first time that unclaimed bodies were allowed to rot at RIMS for months before cremation.
Last year, Khalid had cremated a similar number of bodies when The Telegraph had highlighted the horror of 200 decaying corpses at RIMS that prompted Raj Bhavan to ask district administration why this was the case and the latter prodded RIMS director Tulsi Mahto to take care of the matter.
This year too, the administration swung into action only after a section of the media highlighted the issue.
All the 55 bodies had been recovered from police stations in and around the capital in the past year.
Khalid, who runs the outfit Murda Kalyan Samiti dedicated to paying last respects to the respect, irrespective of religion, caste and creed, feels that the government must put a rule in place for speedy disposal of unclaimed bodies that lie in state mortuaries.
“Should a body lie unclaimed for more than four days, it must get its last rites and be disposed of respectfully, instead of decaying in the crammed mortuaries for months,” he said.
What triggered this unique philanthropic work?
“More than 16 years ago, at a government hospital I saw the body of a beggar lying unattended, while everyone, from doctors to patients to even local leaders passed by unconcerned. I picked up his body and cremated him. I am willing to do this task till I die. Upar jab jaunga aur Allah jab puchhenge ki tune kya kiya toh mere paas kahne ko kuch to hoga (When I die and Allah asks me what I did in my life, I would be able to tell him something positive),” he added.