The supervisor at ITO’s Jadid Qabristan had finished his eight-hour shift Wednesday, but his work was far from over. Shamim had been waiting the whole day to bury the body of a 65-year-old spiritual leader, Mohammad Ahmad Akrami, who died after testing positive for coronavirus at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Around midnight, several of Akrami’s followers, followed by a Delhi Police team, turned up with the body.
Akrami, a resident of Moradabad, died at 1.25 am on Tuesday.
According to police and hospital officials, his family wanted to carry out the funeral at Moradabad. After a long day of negotiations between police, local administration and the followers, the family was finally convinced to bury Akrami at Jadid Qabristan.
A Ganga Ram hospital spokesperson said, “We told them about the protocol to be followed as per ICMR guidelines. Our ambulance driver, along with two attendants, was taking the body to the designated spot when the followers intercepted them and took the body. The local DM, SDM and police officers handled the situation.”
According to police, they received a call from the hospital about the incident. DCP (Central) Sanjay Bhatia said, “We were informed by the SDM (Karol Bagh) that an ambulance from UP was carrying Akrami’s body back to Moradabad. We started to look for the ambulance but the family returned to the hospital on their own. We later found that the SDM called them and told them it’s illegal.”
Initially, Shamim and the other workers refused to bury the body. “We work from 9 am to 5 pm. But the local SDM and senior police officers offered to pay us for overtime. We got Rs 2,000 as extra charges. We had already dug a grave using a bulldozer, otherwise the burial would not have taken place,” he said, adding that this was the first midnight funeral.
Akrami’s son-in-law, Faisal Mobin (33), said the leader had several thousand followers in the community. He is survived by his wife and a 32-year-old son.
The 65-year-old had complained of breathing issues and was taken to a local hospital in Moradabad late May. “We found that he had pneumonia. The family decided to shift him to Ganga Ram hospital for better treatment,” said Faisal. As per his medical records, Akrami died due to a septic shock, and pneumonitis has been listed as the antecedent cause.
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