‘We’re Doing Sewa,’ Delhi’s Crematorium Workers Tell Me

Around 22 workers are working here and they do not have any additional help nor are they on any shifts.

My Report
2 min read

Video Producer: Aastha Gulati
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

“We are working all day. We usually skip meals, if someone provides for us, then we eat. This is very risky work. Sometimes 2 pm, sometimes 3 pm, or 4 pm – we eat whenever time permits.”
A crematorium worker

This is now a daily routine for most of the overworked and underpaid crematorium workers I met at Delhi’s Ghazipur. Working tirelessly and endlessly round the clock since April, these workers feel that the government ignores them.

With a rise in COVID-19 deaths and mass cremations, I decided to visit Ghazipur’s cremation ground and highlight the plight of these frontline warriors.

One of the workers told me that there are 36 pyres in the area and only those were in use. But things changed during the peak of India’s second COVID wave.

“These are just burning as is. This used to be a parking lot, now we are burning dead bodies here.”
A crematorium worker

Around 22 workers are working at this crematorium and they do not have any additional help nor are they on any shifts. They even take care of cremation of unclaimed bodies that are left there. But they have no time to think, they are doing sewa.

“There is nobody to claim these bodies. We are handling the cremations on our own, even of unclaimed bodies. We are not being paid anything. We are just doing it as a service.”
A crematorium worker

As I stood there, packed ambulances with COVID bodies kept coming and workers rushed to continue their job. But in between one of the workers took a few minutes out and requested the citizens to always wear double mask when they step out of their homes and sanitise themselves regularly.

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Quint Insider

or more


3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Insider Benefits
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!