Volunteers join hands to give Covid victims dignified farewell in Raj

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Jaipur, May 27 (IANS) Amid the Covid gloom in Rajasthan, volunteers have come forward to give a dignified farewell to Covid victims by performing their last rites, even as heart-wrenching scenes continue to pour in from different cremation grounds from across the desert state.

These are the victims whose relatives are either hospitalised, or have fallen prey to the dreaded infection.

R.K. Sahara, who has been performing the last rites of Covid victims in Jaipur, told IANS, “My heart breaks when I see the devastations caused by this unseen virus. Recently, I performed the last rites of a young mother and her new-born baby. They were from Varanasi and had come to Jaipur for some work. The husband of the woman had passed away a few days back, and hence they had no one to perform their last rites.”

Sahara also performed the last rites of a Delhi-based woman, Phoolwati Bansal, who passed away at the Manas Hospital in Jaipur. All her relatives in Jaipur were in the hospital at the time.

“It was another instance when I felt sorry for the woman, as despite having family and relatives, no one could give her a send-off because of the pandemic,” Sahara said.

Bansal’s family members had simply permitted the municipal corporation to cremate the body.

Sahara has performed the last rites of around 60 people in the city. For those who have lost all their relatives, he said, “We will go to Haridwar and immerse the ashes in Ganga following all the rituals.”

Another volunteer, Kishan Soni, a physical instructor at a government school, have performed around 60 such funerals since April last year.

“In April last year, a Nimbahera-based patient had died of Covid in Udaipur. As his family members were also infected, there was no one to perform his last rites. The victim was from my community and I was the officer-bearer of the same community’s organization, so they asked me to perform the last rites. Initially, my family was very scared, but I performed the last rites following all Covid protocols,” Soni said.

“Thereafter, I felt it was my responsibility to perform the last rites of such persons who have no one left in the world,” he added.

Soni has been getting calls through social media. When someone contacts him, he first ensures that there is nobody from the deceased person’s family to perform the last rites, and then takes up the responsibility.

With tears in his eyes, he said, “The last one month was quite hectic, as we performed the last rites of around 30 persons. Sometimes we cremated 3-4 bodies on a single day. It shook us from inside and turned our eyes dry.”