Updated: May 6, 2021 7:28:36 am
Leaving his family in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat, a 56-year-old Delhi Police Assistant Sub-Inspector has been working at Delhi’s Lodhi Crematorium every day for the past month, helping more than a thousand grieving families amid the pandemic.
ASI Rakesh Kumar, who has been working with the police for 36 years and is posted at Hazrat Nizamuddin police station, was deployed at the busy crematorium as the Covid surge tore through the capital.
“I come to the ground around 7 am and help priests and workers set up the place. During the day, I help light pyres, pick up bodies, buy material for puja and coordinate with ambulance drivers. Since April 13, I have helped cremate more than 1,100 bodies. Many of them had Covid. Their family members couldn’t make it, so we helped the one attendant who would come. I leave the ground around 7-8 pm,” said Kumar.
Officials at the crematorium said they receive 60-100 bodies a day, which is beyond their capacity of around 47 bodies a day.
DCP (Southeast) R P Meena said their district team deployed two personnel each at the crematorium and other burial grounds to maintain law and order and help the public.
“There are times when a woman or an elderly person loses their loved one and is alone. They don’t know what to do. The ambulances put the bodies outside the ground and leave. We have to help them. I have helped children cremate their parents and grandparents. The second wave is bad. I remember helping a teenager perform the last rites of his father; that pain and suffering can’t be explained,” said Kumar.
His wife and their three children — two sons and a daughter — live in Baghpat, while he stays at the police barracks in Nizamuddin and visits his family once in 15-20 days.
Kumar’s daughter’s wedding was fixed for May 7, but has been postponed because he is busy with work.
“Though I wear a PPE kit and double-mask every time, I don’t want to put my family members at risk. And there are many families here who need our help. This is my duty now. How can I leave and celebrate my daughter’s wedding?” he said.
Kumar will retire in four years and wants to help as many people as he can. He said he isn’t scared of the pandemic and the virus because his seniors have guided him to take all necessary precautions, and he had received two doses of the Covid vaccine a month ago.
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