BJP leaders object to Muslims volunteering at Vadodara crematorium: Report

'There have been at least 1,000 bodies that have been cremated by Muslim brothers in the last year and no one questioned them because no one was here to see them'
Last Updated : 19 April 2021, 06:38 IST
Last Updated : 19 April 2021, 06:38 IST

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As the country battles the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the BJP leaders in Gujarat's Vadodara have different concerns.

Leaders of the saffron party's Vadodara segment have objected to the presence of Muslim volunteers at the city's Khaswadi crematorium.

The issue first came up after some leaders who had visited the place to attend the last rites of a party leader saw a Muslim volunteer helping out at the crematorium on April 16, said an Indian Express report.

“We learnt that he is a contractor supplying wood and dung cakes but he has sublet a contract or appointed more Muslim youth to work in the crematorium, which is wrong. Volunteering for good work is one thing but getting into religious rituals when you have no knowledge of it is not welcome. For Hindus, the antim sanskaar is the last of the 27 sanskaars we have. It cannot be done by someone who does not know. We have told the VMC that the person, who is given the contract for the supply of wood and cow dung could deliver it outside the crematorium. He does not need to be inside,” BJP's Vadodara City President Dr Vijay Shah, who was also part of the group, told the publication.

The report stated that Muslim volunteers have been lending a helping hand during cremations since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in the city but it was only recently that the BJP leaders had decided to raise an objection.

To this, Shah said, "We did not know about it… There are volunteers, who are aware of the religion and they can help with the cremations… We believe that the volunteers performing the last rites of Hindus should be Hindus. We have no other objection.”

One of the staffers at the crematorium said that the volunteer was wearing a skullcap as it was a Friday and he was observing the month of Ramzan. "This man has been working here tirelessly with us since the last year of the pandemic and for two decades before that… There have been at least 1,000 bodies that have been cremated in this crematorium by Muslim brothers in the last year and no one questioned them because no one was here to see them.” the undertaker at the crematorium told the publication.

A medical officer associated with the VMC Health Department told the Indian Express that the Muslim contractor in question is the only supplier of cowdung cakes to the crematoriums and said that he does it voluntarily with no formal contract in place.

Meanwhile, the objections raised by the BJP leaders were condemned by their own party leaders in the Vadodara Municipal Corporation with Mayor Keyur Rokadia saying, "This is the time of a pandemic at its peak. In the best interest of society, communities must work together and understand each other’s sentiments. The controversy has been brought to our notice and we will address it amicably.”

“This stand taken by the party leaders is very embarrassing. It is not right to mix religious ideologies at this time when the entire city is suffering. We cannot deny that the Muslim groups in Vadodara have worked very closely with the VMC during the last year,” another BJP leader told the publication.

Published 19 April 2021, 04:52 IST

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