‘In demand’ Kannur man looks to give the dead their due

He is in great demand in and around Taliparamba, where hospitals seek out his service to dispose of unidentified and unclaimed corpses.
Representational Image.
Representational Image.

KANNUR: Even when he goes to bed, Najimuddeen ensures that his phone is fully charged and not switched off. He is in great demand in and around Taliparamba, where hospitals seek out his service to dispose of unidentified and unclaimed corpses. At times, he gets calls seeking assistance in moving the sick and elderly. And, the 41-year-old does all this without accepting any money.  

“It was initially very difficult for my family, especially my wife Rahmabi,” remembers Najimuddeen, who hails from Pilathara. “But she took the effort to come to terms with my activities,” says the coordinator of CH Centre, Pariyaram.

The Kannur government medical college hospital, in Pariyaram, has been receiving his services for more than a decade. “I started of as a volunteer of CH Centre. This helped me get acquainted with hospital staff and others,” Najimuddeen said. “Over time, I was called in to clean dead bodies before the final rites,” he added. 

One day, he was asked by the MCH superintendent to bury an unidentified body. It was not an easy job, as it required him to ensure proper hospital and police paperwork. “Now I know how to deal with various such cases that hospitals handle. Many people seek my help on such matters, especially migrant workers,” he says.

“It gets complicated when a migrant worker dies at the workplace. I have helped move bodies to various states. Since, the police know me well now, I can get the paperwork done without much difficulty,” Najimuddeen said. “At times, people offer me money for my services. But I always refuse them. I see it as my responsibility as a human being,” he said. 

A welding workshop that Najimuddeen runs in Pariyaram is his only source of income. “I make do with the money earned from the business.” Najimuddeen was especially busy during the pandemic. “Relatives of Covid victims were reluctant to travel with bodies. So, I did it for them. I crisscrossed the state, and at times even travelled outside. I may have helped with the final rites of around 500 people,” he recounts. He took keen interest to ensure that the rituals are based on each one’s religion.  

Now, he has two friends supporting his efforts -- Fayiz of Kuppam and Musthafa of Taliparamba. CH Centre provides female volunteers when handling the bodies of women. Abdul Karim Cheleri, chairman of CH Centre, has always supported me in my activities,” Najimuddeen said. 

“A proper burial is every person’s right. We should honour that. I see this as a duty assigned to me by God,” he says. He and Rahmabi have four children, Ajmal Hassan, Midhilaj, Nagiya and Meharin.

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The New Indian Express