Cremation service through decades

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  • Published 8.08.07

On its 75th year, Hindu Satkar Samity has drawn the government’s attention to the dangers of carrying bodies in commercial vehicles.

The organisation has also asked the authorities to bring the hearses in the city under the control of a federation to utilise the vehicles properly.

“Carrying corpses to the crematorium in a truck or Matador is dangerous because a harmful liquid is secreted from the body. Commercial vehicles are not disinfected the way we disinfect the hearses. Their next trip may be to the market with fruits or vegetables,” said Sandip Mukherjee, the assistant secretary of Hindu Satkar Samity.

The shortage of hearses is the reason why people use commercial vehicles to carry bodies to the crematorium. Sanjay Roy, the joint secretary of the Samity, said: “This sector is unorganised. There are more than 100 hearses in the city. There may be one in the next neighbourhood but you probably don’t know about it.”

The Samity wants a centralised facility to receive calls for hearses and route them to the available carrier. “Most of these vehicles have been gifted to puja committees and other organisations by MLAs and ministers. The hearses hardly get a couple of calls every day. Setting up a federation will ensure their proper use,” said Mukherjee.

A six-bed mortuary cooler was bought by the Samity two years ago for Rs 4.5 lakh. It preserves corpses for up to two days — “the time it takes for NRI sons and daughters to reach the city from the West”, said Mukherjee. The machine, however, is not being used because of objections from a community.

The Samity has been in talks with the Calcutta Municipal Corporation for almost a year to find a suitable place to install the cooler.

The organisation, the only one authorised to carry bodies of Hindus and also cremate them, kicked off its anniversary celebrations with a function at Mahajati Sadan on Friday.