In 25 years, they’ve ferried 11,000 bodies on ‘rickshaw ambulance’

On an average, over 250 bodies are found on the tracks in and around Ludhiana every year. The reasons include suicides and accidents.

punjab Updated: Sep 13, 2018 12:01 IST
Hitesh Jain
Hitesh Jain
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
rickshaw ambulance,Government Railway Police,railway track deaths
The ‘rickshaw ambulance’ pullers in Ludhiana on Tuesday.(HT Photo)

With the Government Railway Police (GRP) ill-equipped to arrange ambulances to shift the bodies found on rail tracks, most of which remain unclaimed, a team of four rickshaw-pullers is managing the show.

One of the rickshaw pullers has ferried over 11,000 bodies to the civil hospital and for funeral in the last 25 years.

“In the past 25 years, I have ferried about 11,300 bodies to Ludhiana civil hospital’s mortuary on my rickshaw,” says 45-year-old Bobby Fakkar.

On an average, over 250 bodies are found on the tracks in and around Ludhiana every year. The reasons include suicides and accidents.

This year, Fakkar and his three associates Raju (19), Birpartap (27) and Jinder Thakkar (55) have already transported around 260 unclaimed bodies to the civil hospital’s mortuary and then for funeral on their ‘rickshaw ambulance’.

They also have to perform the funeral of the unclaimed bodies.

Fakkar, who heads the team, said, “As railways does not have its own ambulance, we are called up whenever GRP finds an unclaimed body. In case of a suicide, bodies are in bad shape and it is a tough job to collect limbs,” he said.

He said they can get calls at any time. “A day after a head constable shot himself dead at Division 2 police station on September 2, we all were called up for the cleaning. We washed the blood-stained floor of his cabin,” Fakkar said. He said it becomes a trying task to cross busy areas with body on the rickshaw. People often suspect us and even raise an alarm. “I wish if we can get a second-hand vehicle. It will make our lives easier.”

The GRP pays Rs 500 per body to a team of four, which they divide.

Another rickshaw puller, Raju who is just 19, said he lost his parents a few years ago and working with Fakkar since.

“I always wanted do something different in my life but this job has shattered all my dreams. I touch bodies with great difficulty and that too with naked hands,” Raju said.

‘Rs1,000 for transportation, funeral of each body’

Station house officer, GRP, Inderjit Singh, said, “We take services of these rickshaw-pullers because railways does not have its own ambulance. With no choice left, we pay them whatever we can to shift bodies to the mortuary. Railways provides Rs 1,000 per body for transportation and funeral,” he said.

“Transportation and funeral of each body costs us around Rs 4,000. With no choice left, we meet the expenses from our own pockets. But we have got a letter in which railways has mentioned that they will soon provide Rs 4,000-5,000 per body,” he added.

First Published: Sep 13, 2018 11:54 IST