During the difficult ongoing time of novel pandemic COVID-19 virus, the world has almost come to a halt. Number of positive cases, along with that of the number of deaths are increasing daily, thereby making the process of cremation extremely hard for the family of deceased patients.
Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal ensures the patient gets their last rituals properly and respectfully. As the situation is getting worse with every rising day, many of them are away from their loved ones, and often they cannot cremate their own family members, depending on the current situation. A mourning son who lost his mother due to COVID said,
My mother was unwell for a few days. This world has been such huge disasters, but this pandemic has created distance between people and their loved ones.
Many just abandon their dead family members because they are scared or they don’t have money. A helpless father quoted,
My son died of COVID but I did not have money for his last rites.
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People are indeed going through a tough time, physically, and mentally as well. To help those people in need, Jitender Singh Shunty came forward with his Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal NGO in Delhi, wherein they are offering “Sewa” to the people, be it by feeding them food, or cremating the deceased bodies. Whatever the group is doing, is doing with good intent and a pure heart. The group has organized funerals for over 200 people in the last three months.
Shunty, the founder of the soulful NGO shared certain things he had gone through and seen in the last few months. In an interview with NDTV, Shunty said,
We have been handling 2-3 types of cases. We have transported dead bodies from mortuaries to cremation grounds. In some cases, if the family is in quarantine, they give us the authority to cremate their family member. We have also had cases where people have abandoned the body of a loved one because of panic and fear.
Since inception, the NGO has added more vehicles to their fleet, totalling to twelve ambulances. All the necessary measures and precautions are complied with, while undertaking this noble deed.
Jyotjeet Singh, Director, Disaster cell and son of Jitender Shunty, said,
While cremating, the disaster management team strictly adheres to the corona protocol of wearing PPE kits, gloves, masks, using a hand sanitizer. Every time we carry the bodies we sanitize the ambulance and maintain the safety of our team members.
The founder also spoke about the number of deaths and how many they have actually cremated. Shunty said,
We started ‘Sewa’ in Delhi after the COVID-19 outbreak and we have performed last rites of 165 dead bodies as per rituals, including 35 people whose family members couldn’t do so as they had tested positive for coronavirus. We have performed the last rites of seven unclaimed bodies as well.
While speaking about Delhi government’s outreach to people for help, Shunty has criticised the state government and quoted,
I have never seen a worse time than this where the administration has not been even bothered to ask if there is any requirement of essentials or not in the last 15 days.
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Shunty seemed upset and angered with the current situation and also accused the present Kejriwal government for not doing much about it. He questioned,
How does one survive when the administration is not reaching out? People in societies are abandoning others.
He has appealed to the government for helping people more in this pandemic crises, and also extending support to the corona warriors who have been helping the citizens of India through various efforts. He quoted,
I appeal to the Delhi government and the Prime Minister to pay attention to the warriors who are driving ambulances and performing last rites during this corona crisis. What if something happens to them as well? They are also someone’s family.
— Jitender Singh Shunty (@jsshunty) May 26, 2020
Incidentally, Jitender Singh Shunty tested COVID positive himself around 20-days ago. The work got interrupted briefly when the entire family, Jitender, his wife Baljit Kaur and son Jyot Jeet Singh all tested positive for the virus. Shunty said,
My son is 23 years of age and recently returned from London after a course in disaster management. I have no regrets that I have contracted the virus. It was something I was anticipating. My only regret is that I am unable to personally serve the people who may still need my help. I just want to say to everyone that we may be home quarantined but our organization’s activities continue to remain uninterrupted.
Since the father and son both had been affected by the virus, they had to be quarantined, and hence, they then established an online mechanism to monitor the “Sewa” that was being offered by their institution’s staff. Operating from separate rooms at their Delhi residence, both men were working all through, even while being affected by COVID. Jyot Jeet Singh then expressed,
I am not concerned about myself, but I’m worried about my mother. She was the one who prayed daily and sent me to serve the people. Thankfully, my elder brother is healthy.
Shunty did experience few challenges socially while he was suffering from COVID, and thus he shared a few of them. He quoted,
The newspaperman did not give us newspapers; neither did the guard come on duty. We felt as if we were terrorists. It was only through the support of my organization that food became accessible to us.
He took a dig mocking how the treatment varies based on a person’s profession or status in society. Shunty said,
If celebrities test positive for this virus, then it is treated as coronavirus. What about people who are at home? They are always looked upon as a terrorist. Do you have to be a celebrity in this country to receive good healthcare?
Shunty and his family are all doing better and recovering well. Society will remain indebted to the Singhs for their noble contribution, risking their own lives in this pandemic.
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