Abdul Hamid had no idea for whom he was digging the seven-foot-long grave, but as he took out an unidentified body from the coffin and lay it to rest inside the trench in the local graveyard in Meharana, tears rolled down his cheeks. "We all are his brothers... Allah bless his soul."
Twenty-three unidentified bodies of the February 18 Samjhauta Express blast victims were buried in Meharana amid Allah Ho Akbar chants. Over 500 people, including Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, offered floral tributes to these "unknown persons" in Meharana on Saturday, six days after they were killed abroad the Delhi-Attari express near Panipat.
"We are born from Earth and finally rest there only. They may be Pakistanis or Indians but what is shocking is they were killed for no reason," said Maulana Asghar Qasmi, while pouring soil on one of the graves.
"Since they (victims) don't have any relatives, we are all doing this as brothers. They were charred so badly that no one can recognise them, but Allah will do justice," said Qasmi.
Like Qasmi, there were hundreds of others who were not related to the victims or their families but were present at the graveyard to express their grief and as fellow humans. Asha Sharma, who was there too, was in tears. "Why do they kill innocent people? Don't they have any respect for life," she asked.
Covered in white shrouds, the bodies were brought in wooden coffins. Before the bodies were taken out of the coffins, Hooda and officials from the Pakistan High Commission laid wreaths on the wooden boxes, showered rose petals and stood in silence for a few minutes as Muslim clerics offered namaz. "We pray for every single victim and feel extremely sad for their family members," the chief minister said.
"Hindu, Musalman, Sikh, Isai, hum sab hain bhai, bhai (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, we are all brothers)," said an emotional Mohammad Unus.
Unus and 70 other people were busy digging the graves since early Saturday. "All of us were crying since morning. I have never seen so many people buried at one place at one time. It's pure destiny and may Allah bless all," he said, pouring the earth over grave No 2.
Abidi Arif Nomani, a Pakistani national, was in tears too. "People from both countries are with them (victims) and Allah will give justice to these innocent souls."
Nomani was in India for business purposes and reached the burial ground to express grief over the tragedy.
On February 18, two coaches of the 4001 Delhi-Attari Express were detonated minutes before midnight by terrorists, killing 68 people and injuring 50.