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Woman Ensures Dignity in Death for Unclaimed Bodies

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Jubeda Akbar Ali

Women are not usually allowed into burial grounds. But in NR Pura of Chikkamagaluru district in Karnataka, a Muslim woman has broken the barrier and won the hearts of locals. Jubeda Akbar Ali, a 45-year-old Muslim widow, is member of the local town panchayat performs the last rites of unidentified bodies. This mother of two girls also works as an ambulance driver. She graduated from Koppa First Grade College.
On Saturday, she transported the body of an unidentified person in his fifties in her ambulance and arranged the burial. “He had been ill for many days. After his death, the body was kept in the mortuary for many days. As no one came forward to claim it, we decided to bury it as per rules. As no relative was present, I offered prayers and did the burial,” she said.
She said her father wanted her to be involved in social service. She said: “I did my first burial in 2003. A woman’s body was being transported in a tractor used to dump garbage. That made me take up this service and provide dignified last rites. Now, if I come across an unidentified body, I organise the funeral and so far, I’ve buried 10 persons. I learnt driving when I was young and started driving the ambulance two years ago. Some persons donated an ambulance and I ferry patients, the destitute, among others, in it.” For locals, she is a familiar face. “What makes her special is her decision to take up a challenging task like organising a burial for unclaimed bodies,” said Raju, a local resident.
(For details, see timesofindia.indiatimes.com)