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Respected Friends,

Please pay your attention to the following. This is very important.

Yesterday, a non - resident COVID positive patient expired in a Srinagar hospital due to brain hemorrhage. Deceased, as we were told was putting up in an uptown Srinagar locality for many years. When his locality members were contacted by the hospital staff for managing his burial in the local community burial ground, it is alleged that community members out rightly rejected to bury the deceased in their local graveyard. Subsequently, a Facebook post by one of the senior Doctors was published with an appeal for local Social Work Organisations, to facilitate the burial of the deceased. A Local Social Work Organisation took the initiative and agreed to bury the deceased at a graveyard, land for which was purchased by the Organisation a few years back. The Hospital administration was informed about Organisation’s intent and was accordingly requested to transport the corpse in an ambulance accompanied by some hospital officials.

In the meanwhile, digging work of the grave was undertaken by some of the senior members of the Organisation themselves under proper COVID procedural guidelines. The grave was ready by 8 PM and the coffin reached the burial ground at around 10 PM. The corpse was accompanied by some people who were perhaps friends and colleagues of the deceased.

Volunteers tried to down the corpse into the grave immediately but could not do it due to some issues with the wooden coffin. As volunteers were on the job, residents came to the graveyard site and created a raucous. They were wary of COVID deceased getting buried in their immediate locality. Volunteers had to face a tough time in convincing them to allow the burial. At one point, it boiled down to the residents getting physical with team of volunteers. But Alhamdullilah, good sense prevailed and the deceased was accorded the burial as per the traditions of our faith. We cannot, however, claim that the burial was decent. Had residents not intervened with their objections, volunteers instead of reaching their respective homes at 2 AM, would have been home by 12 in the night.

Keeping the happenings of yesterday in view, we wish to ask:

A) Are those who die due to COVID untouchables?

B) If as per our faith, anyone who dies due to the pandemic is considered as ‘Shaheed’, why do some people see these ‘Suhada’ with disdain. Doesn’t this smack of our ignorance of Deen?

C) Why isn’t there any arrangement for the burial of non-local COVID deceased Muslims anywhere in our city. Is it not the responsibility of the administration to facilitate the same at some designated place, with all the resources at its disposal.?

We have some suggestions as well:

1. Ulema should come forward, use their authority, and tell people in no ambiguous terms, how sinful is it to disrupt “Tatfeem” of any deceased Muslim.

2. Doctors and civil society members should also educate people. Let people know that dead people can't be the carriers of COVID. A dead person is harmless.

3. The administration should pull up its socks and be prepared for the emerging situation. NGOs should be encouraged, facilitated, and assisted in doing their work.

4. People instead of putting hurdles in the burial process should help. Who knows who will go into the grave as a result of COVID next? Let this reality dawn upon us all. Don’t we always recite, “Kulun Nafsi Zaikatul Maut”?

5. Giving respect to the dead is not something that has to be taught, it comes naturally.

Lastly, we request you to pray for those who are ill. Pray for all of us as well.

Thank you,

Take good care.

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