This Bareilly man gave dignity to the departed in second wave of Covid-19

Published on Jun 27, 2021 02:53 AM IST

Bareilly resident says he performed a large number of burials and cremations within a 30-day span when Covid-19 was at its peak

Mohd Ghizaal Siddiqui says the people of Bareilly helped him from behind the scenes and bore the expenses of his work. (SOURCED)
Mohd Ghizaal Siddiqui says the people of Bareilly helped him from behind the scenes and bore the expenses of his work. (SOURCED)
By, Lucknow

He gave dignity to the dead when there was despondency all around during the second wave of Covid-19 and many people could not even say a final goodbye to their loved ones.

Mohammed Ghizaal Siddiqui battled the pandemic situation in his own way while doctors, paramedical staff and other frontline workers also did so with firm determination.

Siddiqui, a general merchant who is in his late fifties and hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district, says he performed around 385 burials and cremations during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan, which started on April 13, coinciding with the peak of the Covid second wave.

He is perhaps the only person in UP to have performed the last rites of such a large number of people in the second wave.

The task of giving dignity to the departed, especially unclaimed bodies is not new to Siddiqui, who says he has been doing it for the last 38 years.

But the number of bodies he had to lay to rest during the second wave made the pandemic experience much grimmer for him.

“In the last 38 years, I have handled more than 7000 unclaimed dead bodies, including the ones whose family members couldn’t afford giving the last rites to their loved ones, but this situation was different. In a mere 30 days during Ramzan, I gave burials to around 345 bodies and performed the cremation of around 40. I would pray to Allah to not to make me see this horrific phase again in my life,” says Siddiqui as he goes through the records of the bodies at his office in the Quila locality of Bareilly.

Initially, he says, he never thought that he would have to lend a helping hand to the families of the Covid-19 patients.

“But when I saw people in such a helpless state that they couldn’t perform the last rites of their loved ones, I thought if not me, then who else would (do it) and I decided to lend a helping hand to the family members of Covid patients,” he says.

Siddiqui also says the peak 30 days starting from April 12 are still fresh in his memory when he used to get around 20 to 30 calls for assistance daily and about 10-12 of the callers sought help for performing the last rites of their loved ones.

“There were situations when all the family members were in isolation or hospitalized. In some situations, all members of the family were dead. In a majority of the instances, no family member turned up to perform the last rites,” says Siddiqui.

In particular, one instance from Shahmatganj locality of Bareilly moved Siddiqui to the core. He received a distress call from two Muslim sisters, asking for help in performing the last rites of their father and brother who passed away due to Covid-19. “Their mother was hospitalised and the father and the brother were dead. There was no one to attend the bodies. I then attended the bodies and gave them a decent burial,” he recalls.

He says he is thankful to his wife Sufiya and his children for supporting him throughout.

“During the initial days of service to the patients who died due to Covid, I called my wife and said I did not want to risk their (family’s) lives, hence I would be residing in isolation at another house of ours for a few days. But my wife’s reply moved me. She said: nothing could harm us since you are serving humanity. Please come and stay with us, we will take all precautions to keep us all safe,” he recalled.

Sufiya Ghizaal, Siddiqui’s wife, says she made sure that the clothes were handled carefully and washed thoroughly in hot water.

“In that entire phase, we also made sure that we took proper steam (inhalation), wore mask and followed other precautionary measures,” she adds.

She also says this phase was terrifying for her as well even though she had been seeing her husband attending unclaimed bodies for the past three decades.

Siddiqui also thanked the people of Bareilly who helped him from behind the scenes in bearing all the expenses of his noble work.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Oliver Fredrick is working in capacity of Senior Correspondent and is based in Lucknow. Other than covering important beats like Railways, Defense, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), District Administration, he loves to write on human interest stories as it gives an instant connect with the readers. In his career of around 10 years, he has done several path-breaking stories which had forced the State Government authorities to take appropriate actions. Prior coming to Lucknow, he was based in Bareilly and was taking care of politically-sensitive West UP districts like Rampur, Moradabad, Pilibhit, Badaun,Muzaffarnagar and others.

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