Grave Issues In Bidding Final Goodbyeby Anindito Mukherjee
As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in India, more space for cremation and burial is now in need. Not being able to bid a final adieu to the loved ones has already taken a toll on the mental health of people, adding to their woes is the operational difficulties and lack of space for last rites.
Curated by Apratim Saha
“Pair me Infection tha…death kar gayi ammi” (She had an infection in her leg, then tested positive of coronavirus and died in the hospital) – said Rashid a 14-year-old standing by the body of his mother waiting for his turn to get her buried.
Delhi has 13 cremation grounds, four graveyards and a cemetery that are managed by the civic bodies. In these, six cremation grounds, four burial grounds and the lone cemetery have been dedicated for suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients. But as Delhi’s coronavirus death toll is rising on a daily basis, a direct impact on this situation can be seen on burial grounds which are facing the heat of more and more incoming bodies. The bodies usually arrive in multiple numbers, (2-3) bodies in one vehicle as the members of the family wait outside along with the contractual graveyard workers and would eventually open up their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) suits and gear up for the burial process. It is a heart-wrenching sight to see bulldozers/earthmovers digging up a grave and the family members standing far to perform the customary rituals by turning the pile of mud with the final namaz.
It is not easy for the gravediggers, the contractual labours and the ambulance driver. Beating the heat of over 40 degrees by wearing a PPE, the constant influx of bodies and overtime work make them tired. Hygiene and washing hands are the practices they follow but by the end of the day, the logic takes a backseat when they see the helplessness and desperation of the members of the family of the departed souls.
Finally, the apex court has intervened by saying that the last rites of the people those who are the victims of this pandemic must be undertaken with dignity.
In the last few days, Delhi has seen a huge surge in cases. The overall figures point at a grim situation in the coming days. The Delhi government has already hinted at there being 5 lakh COVID-19 cases by the end of July. This would certainly mean that the number of deaths in the national capital could also rise exponentially, so would the need for space in burial grounds.
A photojournalist by profession, an artist by heart, for Anindito life lies on the other side of the viewfinder. As an independent photojournalist and documentary photographer, he has experience in covering News, Politics, Economics, and Documentary stories. For Anindito, experience and mistakes are his best teachers. Anindito’s work has been featured by various prestigeious and renowned oragnizations across the globe. He deftly uses his photography skills in projects that cross-over from journalism to the development sector and the corporate world.