TIRUPATI: Giving a decent farewell to Covid victims is a mission of 47-year-old J Md Ghouse. Since the outbreak of Covid, Ghouse and his friends under the banner Covid-19 JAC have performed the last rites of more than 500 Covid victims, who were abandoned by their kin.On Wednesday alone, they performed the last rites of 24 Covid victims. Of the total, 22 victims were orphans. Two bodies were handed over to Ghouse for the conduct of last rites by their kin.
Wearing PPE kits and following SOP for Covid dead body management, Ghouse and his friends, who have been fasting in view of Ramzan month, shifted the bodies to the Mamandur forest area where they were buried as per Covid protocol. Prior to that the last rites were performed to Covid victims, who were orphans, at SV Medical College.For Ghouse and his friends, performing last rites of Covid victims has literally become a daily routine since August.
Ghouse noticed that the family members of Covid-19 victims belonging to the Muslim community, were facing difficulty to find a proper place to bury the bodies. “I observed that the municipal authorities, due to non-availability of adequate space are cremating the bodies as it is less time consuming though it is against the tradition. To ensure proper burial of Covid victims’ bodies, I formed Covid-19 JAC with my friends to conduct the last rites as per the tradition,’’ Ghouse said.
The Municipal Corporation of Tirupati (MCT) had allotted space in front of Sri Venkateswara University to the Covid JAC for burial of Covid victims bodies. Even that space was filled. “As daily fatalities are on the rise during the second Covid wave, we are running out of energy, space and time to perform the last rites of the victims,” said Ghouse. “We feel tired as most of the members in the team are fasting and there are eight more days for the end of holy month of Ramzan,’’ he said. Ghouse and his 60 team members are working tirelessly without a break for the last few days as the number of deaths caused due to Covid-19 are steadily increasing.
“We are conducting the last rites of at least 10-12 bodies a day. The family members and relatives of some of the victims are shying away to collect the bodies out of fear of contracting the virus. They are abandoning the bodies in the mortuaries itself. When we contact the family members we are sometimes ashamed to listen to the kind of reasons cited by them to take away the bodies,” Ghouse lamented.
What started as an initiative to conduct the last rites of the victims of the Muslim community, Ghouse and his team has so far performed the last rites of over 150 bodies of the victims hailing from the Hindu community. The Covid-19 JAC is committed to ensuring a dignified farewell to the victims irrespective of their religion.