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Gifting dignity to the dead

Forty-seven -year-old Gurupado Bagti has turned down several marriage proposals, as he believes marriage would be an obstacle in his mission. He arranges burials or funerals for unclaimed dead bodies. This is his aim in life. Anil Kumar tells us more.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2007 01:27 IST
Anil Kumar

He has found a unique calling - giving dignity to the dead. Each day, he scours the city, particularly hospitals, to offer his services where most just would not care. He arranges burials or funerals for unclaimed dead bodies. This is Gurupado Bagti's sole aim in life.

Forty-seven -year-old Gurupado Bagti has turned down several marriage proposals, as he believes marriage would be an obstacle in his mission.

"I have so far provided a final resting place to 1,634 abandoned bodies. I will continue to do so until my own death," Bagti says with determination.

What compelled him to take up such a cause? "I came into contact with Digambar Roy who had come to live in Dhanbad when I was 10. Roy was committed to the same cause. I used to accompany him to the burning ghat or a burial ground and assist him in his job. He is my inspiration."

To meet the expenditure incurred in the last rites, Bagti seeks donations from people. When money is hard to come by, he picks up the leftover wooden logs from the burning ghat to light a pyre. He is quite well-known in the town. Even hospital authorities call him to and hand over unclaimed bodies.

Asked why he refused to marry, he says, " I often receive calls in the night. If I were married, my wife would have never allowed me to go out in the dead of the night. It would have hindered my mission."