With respect and dignity, this team bids goodbye for Covid victims in Andhra Pradesh

During the second wave, the eight-member team has performed the last rites of 200 Covid-19 bodies at nominal rates
Sadgurudatha Krupalayam, attendants’ rest room.
Sadgurudatha Krupalayam, attendants’ rest room.

KURNOOL: An eight-member team from the city performs last rites of Covid-19 victims and non-Covid-19 victims at Jammichettu Cremation Grounds. “It is a god given opportunity to serve the society by performing last rites of the dead,” Narsimha, one of the workers said. He and his team mates give a traditional farewell to Covid-19 victims under the aegis of Sadgurudatha Krupalayam, a voluntary organisation. During the second wave, the eight-member team has performed the last rites of 200 Covid-19 bodies at nominal rates. The team comprises manager M Sathish Kumar and workers Narsimha, Sanjanna, Maddilety, Pullanna, Raju, Niranjan Naidu and Yellappa. The team is available 24x7 at the electric crematorium in the burial ground near Joharapuram. 

Sadgurudattha Krupalayam was formed by dedicated people under the leadership of founder K Chandrasekhar Reddy in 2003 and since then the team has been performing last rites of the dead since 2009. The team’s yeoman services came to light after they performed the last rites of Covid-19 victims from last year. 

With the rise in bodies of Covid-19 victims now, they are on duty for at least 22 hours. They take a two-hours gap between 2 am to 4 am every day for the purpose of cooling the electrical burning machine, Sadgurudatha Krupalayam president T Sreenivasa Rao said. Earlier the team used to get five to six bodies per day, but in the past few months, the numbers of bodies has increased to 20 to 25. 

He told TNIE that this crematorium was submerged in 2009 floods and became useless. But with support of the society and Kurnool Municipal Corporation, they raised `40 lakh and reconstructed it, he added. This facility is spread over eight acres of land. There is an electric cremation and facility to burn bodies with wood. But all Covid-19 bodies are sent to electric crematorium only, he added. While four members work for 24 hours on a particular day, another team takes over the next day, Rao said. 

an electric crematorium at the
burial ground in Kurnool I Express

He said, “We have faced discrimination from our neighbours and friends at tea stalls and grocery shops. They stopped meeting us knowing the kind of work we do. Without the support extended by my family members, I could not have continued to do the work for the past seven years.” 

Another worker said due to the fear factor, bodies of Covid-19 victims are dropped at the entrance of the crematorium by their relatives or by ambulance staff. Even the near and dear ones of the victim don’t come for the last rites. 

“But our team performs the traditional rituals as per the religious faith of the dead,” he added. Team manager M Satish Kumar, who does the last rites free of cost, said his wife is working in a shop near his house in the Old Town area in the city. “Whatever she earns is enough for the maintenance of my family,” he added.  

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The New Indian Express