16-year-old girl gives Telangana Covid victims a dignified farewell

Since then, the group of three women have conducted the final rites of about 30 people. 

Published: 18th April 2021 08:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th April 2021 08:26 AM   |  A+A-

16-year-old Battula Devisree, along with the members of Annam Seva Foundation, takes a body to a cremation ground. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

KHAMMAM:  With rising Covid-19 cases, one can see reports of mass cremations without following any customs. However, a Khammam-based NGO is carrying out the final rites of people, who died of Covid-19, in a dignified manner. Spearheading this initiative are three women, Tailam Saraswathi, P Eswaramma and Battula Devisree, who are members of Annam Seva Foundation (ASF). However, it is to be noted that Devisree is only 16 and studying in Intermediate. At a time when gender roles are being shattered, Devisree too has entered into a male-dominated domain at such a tender age. Apart from conducting the final rites for Covid-19 casualties, she also does the same for abandoned or unidentified bodies.

“Women are now everywhere showing their abilities and I am just doing my bit here,” she said. Her parents worked as cooks for ASF after they had to shut their eatery at Yellandu in the district during the Covid-19 lockdown. Inspired by the work done by ASF founder-president Annam Srinivas Rao, Devisree also joined the NGO. 

In September 2020, when the NGO received information of an abandoned body on a nearby railway track, Devisree offered to help Srinivas Rao with it, but seeing that she was a young teenager, he refused. However, she persevered, and convinced with her resolve, Srinivas Rao allowed her to join the team. Since then, the group of three women have conducted the final rites of about 30 people. 

“My parents, Bhuvaneswari and Ramu, and elder brother Jaya Prakash are very supportive and never objected to it. Instead, they are extremely encouraging,” Devisree stated. “It is very satisfying to serve society,” she added.Apart from her studies, she hopes to continue with social work as well. Speaking to Express, ASF’s Srinivas Rao said, “Initially, I didn’t allow Devisree to help, but after seeing her commitment, I allowed her, and kept encouraging her as well.”

The other members of her team, Saraswathi and Eswaramma, spoke very highly of Devisree as well. “We feel what we do is a great service to society and believe that we have the Almighty’s blessing as well,” they added.


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