NEW DELHI: With incessant rise in Covid deaths putting pressure on resources at cremation facilities in the national capital, former MLA from Shahdara, Jitender Singh Shunty have once again stepped up to perform last rites of such victims. His organisation Shahid Bhagat Singh Seva Dal (SBSSD) last year also arranged funerals of people who had died of coronavirus as families were facing difficulties.
Besides cremations, the organisation also ferries patients from home to the hospital or isolation centres and vice versa for free of cost. Shunty (59) said the present situation is worse. “We resumed our cremation and transportation facility from April 5 and since then we have already cremated 25-30 bodies every day. This time, the majority of victims are younger people. Today, we received 35 bodies and 10 of them were of very young patients.
On Thursday, we cremated 26 bodies including that of a 14-year-old boy and a 20-year-old girl. It is unfortunate that young people are succumbing to the virus in large numbers,” Shunty said. According to the organisation, it has conducted nearly 300 funerals this year. Last year, it facilitated more than 800 cremations. Shunty’s a team primarily in three district in east and northeast Delhi and receives bodies from Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality (RGSS) Hospital. All cremations are carried out at Seemapuri cremation ground.
SBSSD’s team comprises 18 volunteers and 12 hearse vans and ambulances, which has transported over 2,600 Covid patients in the last one year. Shunty and his family including two sons aged 34 and 26 contracted the virus in July however the service continued. For his social service, he was awarded Padma Shri in January and also bestowed Indian Television Academy (ITA) award in March.
“Sometimes, families are not able to conduct funerals because they are in quarantine. Or on occasions, the family members are reluctant to participate in the cremation due to virus scare. Some leave the body at the mortuary or hospital because of fear,” said Shunty. In situations like this, district administration also takes services of the shunty’s organisation.