On the 16th of April, a few BJP leaders in Vadodara visited the Khaswadi crematorium, where they identified a Muslim volunteer preparing the pyre with cow dung and woods for the cremation procedure. To this, the BJP leaders, along with Dr Vijay Shah, president of BJP's Vadodara unit, objected firmly and asked the Vadodara Municipality Corporation to ensure that Muslim volunteers are not allowed inside the crematorium.
"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… 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," President Vijay Shah told The Indian Express.
However, several other BJP leaders in the Vadodara Municipality Corporation raised objections against this remark. Mayor Keyur Rokadia said that when the country is already going through a crisis in the midst of the pandemic, it is important that the communities work together amicably.
The Khaswadi crematorium has already been over-burdened with the large number of cremations taking place daily. In this hour of need, the Muslim volunteers have been in working at the forefront to facilitate the process of cremations under Covid-19 protocols in cases where the families of the deceased refused to attend or could not attend due to quarantine. "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," said another BJP leader who is also a part of the Vadodara Municipality Corporation (VMC).
Staff members at Khaswadi Crematorium said that the Muslim volunteers had been working tirelessly with them even on Fridays in the month of Ramzan. "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," said the staff.
On Sunday, mayor Rokadia, along with state Minister Yogesh Patel and Vinod Rao, officers on Special Duty to Vadodara, met with the Muslim community to appreciate and thank them for their support and asked them to seek for further help in future.