MP COVID crisis: Bhopal crematorium gives refuge to kin of deceased patients

BHOPAL: At a time when images of relatives of deceased COVID-19 patients queuing up at crematoriums have become common, a crematorium in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal is giving temporary refuge to people who bring their loved ones to the city for treatment and lose them to the disease.

While people are usually scared to enter crematoriums and graveyards at night, Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat here has been providing beds and meals to relatives of COVID-19 patients, who perform the last rites of loved ones.

More than half a dozen people spend their night at the facility daily after cremating their loves ones, thanks to the trust looking after the place and providing them food, water and bedding in these difficult times.

People from neighbouring districts, who bring their relatives to Bhopal for COVID-19 treatment and lose them, bring the bodies to Bhadbhada crematorium, as mortal remains are not allowed to be taken out of the district to contain the viral spread.

Bereaved relatives have to wait in serpentine queues for their turn to cremate deceased patients even late in the evenings due to the heavy rush of COVID-19 casualties.

“After the last rites, people wait for the embers to cool to collect ashes for immersion. They can’t travel to their homes in other districts at night and then turn up in the morning to collect the urn of ashes,” said Mamtesh Sharma, the secretary of Bhadbhada crematorium.

Moreover, since hotels and guesthouses are shut due to the coronavirus curfew, many find it difficult to get food and shelter for the night, he said.

“With the help of some good Samaritans, we have made arrangements to feed kin of the deceased and make their night halt comfortable in our crematorium,” Sharma said.

A double-door refrigerator has been donated to the crematorium to store food stuffs and water bottles that are being sent to the facility, he added.

According to Sharma, 60 people were cremated at the facility on Friday, and of them, 54 were COVID-19 patients, including 38 locals and 16 from outside Bhopal.