Muslims light the pyre of 78-year-old Hindu man in Akola

Members of the Akola Kutchhi Memom Jamaat performed the funeral after the deceased’s family allegedly refused to do the same


Dignity in death is a right that most people are being robbed of during the Covid-19 pandemic. With families and relatives not being able to reach their deceased loved ones in time, the only choice they are left with is the cremation at the hospital or dependence on others to fulfill last rites.

The importance of last rituals in the Hindu culture hold immense significance for the community for they are a way of making sure that the deceased are at peace. However, at times when the Hindu community hasn’t been able to perform these rituals for their loved ones, on many ocassions during the lockdown it has emerged that the Muslim community has stepped up to help their Hindu brothers.

A beautiful example of this recently came to the fore after Muslim youths from a local organization, Akola Kutchhi Memom Jamaat, in Akola, lit the pyre of a 78-year-old Hindu man who died of a heart attack last week. The youths from the Muslim community performed the man’s last rites after his family allegedly refused to perform the same, The Indian Express reported.

Confirming that the Muslim youths came forward to help, Prashant Rajurkar, head of the sanitation department of the Akola Municipal Corporation said, “The man’s son, who lives in Nagpur, refused to accept the body and perform the funeral. So, a local Muslim organization, Akola Kutchhi Memon Jamaat, took over the responsibility. On Sunday, some Muslim men lit the pyre at the crematorium.” He also said that while the deceased’s son did not attend the funeral, he provided Rs. 5,000 for the ceremony, adding that the son was upset because of the media coverage and that his father’s name was out in the public domain.

According to Amravati Divisional Commissioner Piyush Singh, “The wife of the deceased man was admitted to GMCH on May 23 around 4 pm. We took her swab as she was symptomatic. The dean of GMCH received a message around 6.30 pm that the man had collapsed at home. An ambulance was sent but he was dead. The wife’s report came out positive on the morning of May 24. As per protocol, they don’t take a swab from a dead body but swabs of close relatives are taken. So, reports are awaited.”

Akola has become a hotspot for Covid-19 with more than 400 cases and the death toll there has risen to 25. This is why, Javed Zakeria, President of the Akola Kutchhi Memon Jamaat said that the organization decided to perform funerals of those whose families were unable to do so. Till now the organization has performed 60 funerals, out of which 21 were Covid-19 victims. “Five of these were Hindus,” he said. Zakeria also said that the volunteers wore protective gear throughout for their safety and though they generally stop after laying the pyre, the funeral of the 78-year-old they conducted on Sunday, was the first time they also lit the pyre.

This solidarity by the Muslims has been on display on earlier occasions too. Almost a fortnight ago in Mumbai, members of the Muslim community helped in performing the last rites of their 72-year-old neighbour after his family members couldn’t reach the funeral due to the lockdown. The man who was paralyzed since the last few months, died at his residence in the Zakaria Bunder area of Sewri, a Muslim-dominated locality, where he had been living for the past few decades.

Last month, in the suburban area of Bandra in Mumbai, Muslim men carried the body of their Hindu neighbour of their shoulders to the crematorium ground as the deceased’s relative couldn’t travel due to the lockdown.

The pandemic had been heavily communalized but a look at the news reports from all over the country show how Muslim neighbours are helping in the funeral processions of the Hindus.


Strangers as pallbearers: Death and grief in lockdown
Muslim community comes together to perform last rites of Hindu neighbour
Covid-19 deaths: Ash to ash, dust to dust



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