Outsiders often refused to perform last rites in city

There is no space in most govt cemeteries and those attached with churches

About 10 days back, an 18-year-old, who hails from Darjeeling, was running from one place to another to lay his sister to rest. He wanted to perform his sister’s burial in the city as he couldn’t afford to take her body back to Darjeeling. The girl, a domestic help, had apparently hanged herself.

The church her brother approached refused to let the burial be performed at its attached cemetery. And police wouldn’t intervene in the matter.

Rishi Kant from Shakti Vahini — the NGO that took up the dead girl’s case — says outsiders to the city often face this problem. “Especially people from the lower strata are ill-treated. Several tribal Christians migrate to Delhi on a regular basis and are denied their death rites.”

According to other NGOs working for the rights of safai karamcharis, domestic maids and migrant workers, those refused by the churches in Delhi often have no option but to perform the last rites of their loved ones back at their native place.

Father Rebello, chairperson of Delhi Cemetery Society under the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, says it is important for Christians to be members of a church to allow their last rites to be performed at a Christian cemetery.

“Either they have to get a membership letter from the congregation, or provide ID proof of the dead person or any family member that they are Christians. Until and unless the proof is provided, we do not allow burials,” he says.

Most government cemeteries, and those attached with churches, have begun reporting shortage of space. However, Father Rebello believes the government land allotted in Rohini and Dwarka, apart from a very big cemetery in Burari, would be adequate for another decade.

No restriction: Wakf Board

Delhi Wakf Board chairperson Mateen Ahmad says the Wakf does not put restrictions on the burial of people who come from outside Delhi.

“Every Muslim can bury their dead at any of the graveyards. I have no knowledge of people going out of Delhi for a burial owing to lack of space. If at all they are going, it must be because of their own choice,” he says.

However, a caretaker at a Muslim graveyard says people from outside Delhi are usually charged more. For instance, the current charge for a burial in Delhi is about Rs 3,000, but if an outsider approaches any of the caretakers they are charged at least 20 per cent more.

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