Living with the dead, ‘because no money for coffins’
“We have been sleeping with bodies of our relatives for the last three days so that stray animals do not harm them. We are very poor and cannot afford expenses to perform the last rites of the bodies.”punjab Updated: Jan 02, 2018 21:12 IST
It’s been three days since Dalip Singh, 40, died in a road accident on the last day of 2017, yet his wife, Palam, sleeps next to his body. Their three-year-old daughter, Anajali, too died and has not yet been buried. Palam says she does not have the money to carry out the last rites. Her leg is fractured and she cannot afford treatment either. And she is not alone in this predicament after the accident in Jalandhar.
“I wish I was there with my husband at the time of the accident,” said Neelam, 21,the seven-month pregnant widow of another deceased, Mohinder, 23. “His body is lying in front of me, but I am so helpless that I cannot even perform his last rites.” Four of the five deceased are unable to carry out the last rites. Red Cross has now given them Rs 4,000 each, which should cover the coffin expenses.
“We have been sleeping with bodies of our relatives for the last three days so that stray animals do not harm them. We are very poor and cannot afford expenses to perform the last rites of the bodies,” said Bhola, whose brother is among the dead.
The labourer families live in shanties near Lambra village that they had set up in mid-December after they had shifted here from Jagraon. They wanted to attend Christmas and New Year celebrations at a local church. It was while returning in an autorickshaw from a church that the vehicle collided with another. The auto driver died too and his last rites have reportedly been carried out. But the bodies of Mohinder, Dharam Devi, 35, and Dalip and his daughter Anjali are yet to be buried.
Family members said that the six persons injured in the mishap are also not taking treatment, and only one victim, identified as Johil, is admitted to the local civil hospital due to severe head injuries. But the family has no money for his treatment either.
The church management and some villagers have been giving them food for the last three days.
On Tuesday, sub-divisional magistrate (Jalandhar-2) Paramvir Singh and Lambra police officials visited them and promised financial assistant. Deputy commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma said the administration is sympathetic to the families. “Red Cross Society has given Rs 4,000 each to the deceased’s families. They are agreed to performing the last rites now. I have also asked the medical superintendent of the civil hospital to provide all necessary treatment to the injured on government expenses,” said the DC, when contacted.