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Helping with last rites of Covid patients: PFI asks Mayor, PMC chief why its permission was revoked

Before the revocation of the permission, the PFI, which has a volunteer team of 30, had been carrying out the last rites of thoses who succumbed to the virus for the last two-and-a -half months. So far, the team has attended to 107 cases in Pune.

Written by Ruchika Goswamy | Pune | June 12, 2020 3:11:45 am
Mayor Murlidhar Mohol

After the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) decided to “cancel its arrangements” with the t.he Popular Front of India (PFI), which was helping the civic body carry out the last rites of Covid-19 patients in the city, the organisation has approached Mayor Murlidhar Mohol and PMC Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad, seeking to know the reason behind the cancellation.

“The decision was taken at 7 pm on June 2, when we were going to attend to three new cases. It came right after the tweet by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis… accusing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and calling the PFI ‘anti-social’ and ‘anti-national’. Our permit was revoked and we were unable to continue with our services. We have requested the Mayor and the PMC Commissioner to provide us with the reason why and also to explain who will be held responsible as we still are getting inquiries from people. Otherwise, we would be compelled to take this forward legally,” said Razi Khan, district president of PFI.

Before the revocation of the permission, the PFI, which has a volunteer team of 30, had been carrying out the last rites of thoses who succumbed to the virus for the last two-and-a -half months. So far, the team has attended to 107 cases in Pune.

Khan said the PFI will also try to seek a new permit so that it can continue its services in the city.

“The panic created by the virus had many abandoning the bodies. That’s where we came into the picture… to properly bury or cremate those who have died. We are part of a WhatsApp group wherein every day we are notified by families and hospitals which need help in conducting the last rites of Covid-19 patients. Our trained volunteers function with personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as the precautionary guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation and the PMC, on how to attend to the body of a corona-positive patient,” said Liyakat Khan, convenor of Kul Jamat-e-Tanzeem, an umbrella body for local Muslim groups.

He said the PFI has been working extensively in all parts of the country and providing its services to the society. “Covid-19 cases are predicted to rise in the month of July. I hope and pray they do not but we need to be prepared from our end. Now, without the permit, the volunteers can’t do anything,” he said.

Meanwhile, the PMC said another organisation, the Muslim Mulnivasi Manch, continues to provide assistance in burying deceased Covid-19 patients as per the wishes of the family members. “We don’t need more agencies for this purpose as one agency is already providing the service to bury Covid-19 patients from the Muslim community,” said a PMC officer.

The PFI permission was withdrawn after objections were raised by the mayor, who had sought clarification on who had given permission to PFI. Mohol also directed that the civic administration should not take any such decision in the future without permission of elected representatives.

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