Jitender Singh 'Shunty' has carried out the funerals of over 2,000 strangers during COVID19 as a way to give a dignified cremation to the departed. Amidst the second wave, a lot of funeral homes and cremation centers are overwhelmed and have been working over-time.
As a result of this, deeply disturbing instances have been reported of multiple cremations being carried out on the same pyre. To help make this situation better, Jitender Singh's 'Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal' is working round the clock to ensure that proper cremations are carried out for the people who have passed away.
He took up this service after realizing that a lot of families have themselves contracted the virus, and hence cannot leave the house to ensure a proper cremation for their loved ones. In lieu of this, Jitender Singh took it upon himself to carry out the task.
Restoring Faith in Humanity
Jitneder Singh, a recipient of the Padma Shri award for his humanitarian work, starts his day at 7AM and ends it by sleeping in his parking lot or garage so that his family members do not get affected by the virus. He works in PPE kits all day and calls this work his passion.
“My organization believes in giving a respectable farewell to the departed and we have been doing this for over two decades now. But the number of bodies that are arriving in the wake of the coronavirus spike has shaken my spirit. It breaks my heart," he said in a statement to The Times of India.
How it Started
Talking about how he came up with the idea to carry out this service, he talks about one particularly horrifying incident he came across in a funeral home in Delhi. "I caught someone picking up burnt logs after bodies were burnt. I asked the person the reason for that and he said that he and his wife were collecting the wood for cremating the body of their own child. He said he didn't have the money to even carry out the last rites of his own child. This hit me hard as while we have people spending crores on marriages and luxury products, there are many who don't even have enough resources to cremate their loved ones."
It was then that he set up the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal, and his organization has carried out upwards of 24,000 funerals since 1995. They cremate the bodies of poor and marginalized people, most of whom are unidentified and handed over to them by hospitals.
More About the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal
The organization has 18 vehicles including ambulances and hearse vans. They also provide refrigerated mortuary boxes that have earlier been used to preserve the bodies of Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, among others.
Jitender has a team of 20 people, and together they work on other causes too, such as organizing blood donation drives, and disaster management, along with funeral services.
"It is a tough job, but we feel satisfaction in what we do. I would want to have more ambulances and other vehicles so that I can do more, and contribute more to my dear cause."
If you want to help out the cause, you can make a donation to Jitender's organization online through their website.
(With inputs from The Times of India).