Hindu last rites or Muslim? Surat man’s kin fight it out

The body of a 50-year-old truck driver,who was born Hindu but converted to Islam,lies in a hospital morgue here as his relatives fight over whether he should be cremated or buried

Written by Kamaal Saiyed | Surat | Published: February 23, 2012 4:03:06 am

The body of a 50-year-old truck driver,who was born Hindu but converted to Islam,lies in a hospital morgue here as his relatives fight over whether he should be cremated or buried. The police have left the matter to the court to be decided.

A resident of Bardoli taluka,Bharat Thakker converted to Islam after falling in love with a widow,Fatema Shaikh,and took on the name Mohammed Siraj Shaikh. Thakker had divorced his first wife,Tinu Patel,following frequent quarrels. While Thakker had two children with Tinu,Fatema had four children from her previous marriage.

Both the families had reportedly reconciled to their relationship,with Thakker’s children too converting to Islam. All six children had lately been living with the Shaikhs.

On Tuesday afternoon,while Siraj was on his way to deliver some parcels to a nearby village,he was run over by a bus. His body was brought to Surat’s New Civil Hospital for postmortem. Soon after Fatema,her brothers and the children had come to take possession of the body for the last rites,Siraj alias Bharat’s mother Veenaben and brother Rakesh turned up and demanded that the body be handed over to them.

Said Inspector C J Rajput: “We don’t have the power to decide as to whom we should hand over the body… let court decide.”

Siraj’s son Suhel said his father’s family had maintained no ties with them since his marriage to Fatema. “It’s strange that after so many years,they have suddenly remembered him.”

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