Srinagar, July 17: On one evening, when Sajad Ahmad Khan was passing through the lanes of Bemina to return home, he saw relatives of a lady who died of COVID-19 were reluctant to go closer to the coffin.
He ran to his departmental store and took eight Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and gave them to these people who later carried the coffin and buried the lady in the graveyard.
That day he also made up his mind to arrange decent burials for those who die of COVID-19.
He posted on his Facebook page, ‘Athwaas’ that he can be contacted if any family wants burial of any COVID victim.
“Since then I am receiving calls from people for burial of those who died due to COVID. We have 20 people in our team who have been divided into five groups with four persons each. After burying a dead body, one group goes into quarantine for 14 days,” he told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).
So far, they have arranged almost 20 burials of COVID victims in Srinagar.
“All most everywhere, people are raising objections and do not want COVID victims to be buried in their graveyard. This stigma has to end. We should help each other in this crisis like we did during floods,” Khan, the ex-banker said.
Khan, 37, provides all the equipment to his team (volunteers) like personal protection equipment (PPE) kits, sanitisers and other things.
Before that he also provided PPE to various doctors who were fighting the COVID in hospitals.
“There are people who don’t know how to bury a dead body. We have kept everything available like PPEs, rope and other things which are needed,” he said.
Some people also offer them money but they don’t take anything from bereaved families.
“We do it voluntarily to help people amid crises. The stigma attached to COVID positive patients should end. They are among us. Anyone can catch this infection then why dishonor these dead bodies,” he asked. He has two children, mother and wife in his family.
Before starting grocery shop, he was working in a bank then started his own travel agency.
“Since childhood I wanted to do something for society. My father expired during my studies. I used to earn and spend on my education,” he said, who did his masters in Mass Communication from Bangalore University.
Jammu and Kashmir has reported over 12,000 positive cases. The virus claimed over 224 lives-206 deaths in Kashmir 18 in Jammu- respectively till July 16.
The World Health Organisation has also issued guidelines for managing bodies of those who die of COVID-19 saying, “cadavers do not transmit disease”.
The Indian Health Ministry guidelines state that “there is unlikely to be an increased risk of COVID infection from a dead body to health workers or family members who follow standard precautions while handling body.”