During the lockdown from March 22 to May 31, Vashisht cremated 22 unclaimed bodies, after checking at PGIMER that the people who had died were not COVID-19 positive.
Vashisth, who is associated with an NGO named All India Seva Samiti since the past 23 years, has cremated around 2,300 unclaimed bodies till date, with rituals of every religion.
“At this time of COVID-19 outbreak, when everyone fears to come close to a dead body, I did not step back. I continue my commitment towards what I began at the age of 44. The bodies which I have cremated, 99 per cent of them were unclaimed. However, one per cent were of families who did not have enough money to cremate the bodies,” said Vashisth.
“I came into this service of cremating unclaimed bodies while I was associated with an NGO named All India Seva Samiti. Even after the NGO members decided to discontinue the service of cremation, I remained enrolled into the service,” he added.
About the expense of cremating a body, Vashisth said “It is around Rs 830 for cremation of one body on LPG gas. The expenditure includes van to ferry the body, then the clothes for the body as per the Hindu cremation ceremony, while for the cremation in Muslim or Christian tradition, it costs around Rs 4,000,” he said.
Vasisth added that though the concerned official from MC and others do pay the bills of the cremated bodies’ expenditure, but none of the concerned department from UT ever come to help in the cause. Even the bills for the previous one year is pending with the MC Chandigarh, and are yet to be cleared.
Vashisth added that, he gets to know about the unclaimed dead bodies from the police.
“As the police waits for the body after conducting the post-mortem and nobody from the relatives arrives for claiming it, the policemen of the concerned police station call me for the cremation after waiting for seven days at least. After the cremation gets over, the last rites are also conducted at Haridwar,” he said.
Vashisth said that he works as a law book marketer to earn his livelihood. He lives at Mauli Jagran, Chandigarh, with his wife and has four children including two sons and two daughters.
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