Milan Rafiq (inset) and the vehicle he uses to ferry bodies of Covid victims
When ambulances charge exorbitant rates, Rafiq just asks where the body should be ferried and sets out in his Omni
Hiriyur Town (Chitradurga, Karnataka): Milan Rafiq, who runs an old furniture shop in Hiriyur town, has converted his Omni into a hearse and ferries bodies of Covid patients to graveyards and crematoriums. He also completes the last rites and has cremated and buried more than 200 bodies, of which around 80 were Covid patients. He aims to give people a final dignified departure. However, he saw disowned bodies lying in the mortuary of Hiriyur Taluk Hospital, and it disturbed him so much that he decided to take on the last duties himself, irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. He does not charge any money, only accepting whatever is given to him, which he uses for the subsequent burial or cremation. When ambulances charge exorbitant rates, Rafiq just asks where the body should be ferried and sets out in his Omni. His group of friends met the cost of petrol and repairs, standing solidly behind him ever since he took up these humanitarian duties. “I am also using my fixed deposit, and I cannot ask families for money when they are in pain. It would be a sin,” he said.
Rafiq’s wife Shahtaj Begum, son Mohammed Zubair and son-in-law Mohammed Ali, support him and even help him with the last rites. They wear masks and PPE kits and sanitize the Omni after work is done. He cites a recent ordeal where there was no one to give them even a glass of water. “My son, son-in-law, and I conducted the last rites and drank water only after returning to Hiriyur,” he said.
(Extracted from newindianexpress.com)