BERHAMPUR: In today’s society where empathy has become a rare trait, there are still a few whose work makes us cling on to our faith in humanity. Sanjay Sahu of Padmapur in Rayagada district is one such do-gooder who is steadfast on his mission to facilitate a hassle-free final journey for the dead.
Hailing from an affluent family, Sanjay entered into his family business after completing post-graduation. But soon, he realised his calling, which was to serve the people. In 2016, he came across a dead body stuffed inside an auto-rickshaw and taken to the funeral ground. Disturbed by the sight, he decided to provide transport for the dead free of cost.
Already popular in the region for supplying drinking water through his tanker to the poor and needy in water-starved areas of Padampur, Gunupur and Ramanaguda, Sanjay put forth a proposal before the local representatives to start hearse service for the public. On coming to know about Sanjay’s plan, Gadadhar Sahu, who worked as a driver at Padmapur police station, offered to drive the hearse free of cost during his leisure time.
Encouraged by the offer, Sanjay purchased a vehicle, named it ‘Swarg Rath’ and started the service. Soon, another local, Ganapati Rao, came forward to drive the vehicle.
As the demand for the hearse rose, Sanjay purchased another vehicle and extended the service to Gunupur, Padmapur and Ramanaguda. Inspired by Sanjay’s act, Dayanidhi Barik of Gunupur came forward to drive the new hearse without any remuneration.
Apart from providing the vehicles free to the needy, Sanjay also bears the fuel expense. Till date, the two hearses have transported around 392 bodies from hospitals to different funeral grounds.
Sanjay says he gets peace in serving people. “I want to help as many people as I can in this life,” he said.
Mobile phone numbers of Sanjay and his three aides are available at most of the tea or betel shops in the locality. On receiving a call, the callers respond in a short span of time, said locals.
Notably, though the State Government has provided a hearse under its Mahaprayana scheme, it has proved to be inadequate.