Carrying out last rites have turned challenging with the rising number of fatalities and the safety protocol required to be followed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ramananda Sarkar, who works in Ulubari Shamshan (crematorium) in Assam's Guwahati has helped conduct the last rites of nearly 400 COVID-19 victims in the past five months.
"I've been conducting last rites of COVID-19 patients since April and till Tuesday have done nearly 400 cremations till date. Earlier, it used to be 1-2 cases in a day, but since the past one month, we have 10-12 cremations daily," 43-year-old Sarkar told the Hindustan Times.
According to reports, in the past few weeks, Assam has been reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases as well as deaths. It has recorded 1,33,066 positive cases including over 29,000 active cases.
Kamrup Metropolitan district, which includes Guwahati, has been worst affected due to the coronavirus outbreak with 500-600 new cases daily, reported the publication.
"These days I and my two assistants start conducting last rites daily at 3 pm and by the time we finish, it's nearly 2 am or 3 am. I am getting tired and it seems the flow of bodies won't stop and there's no rest for us. Earlier, I used to be afraid to handle bodies of COVID-19 patients, not anymore," said Sarkar.
He was working at the Bhootnath crematorium before he was hired by the district administration and shifted to Ulubari. He also mentioned that he stays at a hotel and the expenses are being borne by the state government. Owing to the nature of his work, he has been tested several times for COVID-19 but has not detected positive for the virus.
Several media reports have highlighted the inhumane treatment of COVID-19 victims' body during burial or cremation from across the country, taking into consideration one's right to dignified burial, the selfless service of such persons who work despite putting their lives at risk should be appreciated.