Muslim youth in Srinagar helps families by carrying out final rituals of those who succumbed to Covid

Express News Service
SRINAGAR: A ‘chowkidar’ of a cremation ground in Srinagar is going beyond his brief to help grieving non-Muslim families in completing the final rituals of their beloved ones who succumbed to Covid-19.

Working in place of his father in the pandemic, Shabir Ahmed, 24, says he has done 60-70 cremations in the last nine months. 

​“I have been working at my father’s place and my job is 24×7. My job is to keep watch of the cremation ground,” said Ahmed.

“Some of the bodies were of non-locals, who had no family members in the Valley and were brought by the police.”

Some of the Covid victims were also security personnel, mostly CRPF constables, who hailed from other parts of the country.

“The government is making arrangements to bring family members of such victims to Srinagar for attending their last rites.” 

There are two more staff both pujaris (priests) in the cremation ground at the cremation ground managed by Sanathan Dharam Trust in Srinagar’s Batamaloo area.

“I make arrangements of firewood and other items. I am doing it on humanitarian grounds as we need to be with each other in this testing time when Covid is snatching our loved ones,” said Ahmed who is yet to get PPE kits. Asked whether there was opposition from his family, Ahmed said, “No. In fact, many families praise my services and tell me that ‘I am doing punya ka kaam’ (charity work).”

​“As doctors and frontline health workers have been working round the clock since last year to save precious lives, I am doing my bit in fighting the coronavirus with my efforts,” he added.