morgue, mortuary, dead body
Illustrative image. Image Credit: iStockphoto

While reports of religious disharmony have recently spread in some parts of India amid the coronavirus pandemic, the popular Indian town of Bengaluru is leading by example of religious unity. When a Hindu woman’s father passed away, 10 Muslim neighbours stepped up to help the widow conduct the last rights. That is not all, they got their womenfolk to take care of the grieving women in the family and ensure that they were fed.

Twitter users are sharing the report with many saying that the tragic incident in the city’s RT Nagar shows “the real India”, which was more compassionate before communal politics disrupted the peaceful fabric of the country.

Local newspaper, The Bangalore Mirror, reported that 63-year-old Karthik Maity and his wife Minnu Maity had come to Bengaluru in February for the birth of their grandson.

But, on Thursday, Karthik died in his sleep. According to Minnu Maity: “We came to the city on February 13. She delivered a baby on March 13 and since then we are stuck here. On Thursday afternoon, after lunch, my husband went into the room to take a nap and did not wake up. Around 3.30 pm, when we tried to wake him, he did not respond. When we checked his pulse we realised that he was no more.”

The nationwide lockdown has put impositions on movement within the country, as well as formalities that follow a death. So Pintu, the son-in-law immediately reached out to his neighbours for help to take the old man to a hospital. But with every death being associated with Covid-19, most neighbours were hesitant.

Their immediate neighbour, Suhail Sheikh did not turn away.

When Das told Sheikh that he was finding it difficult to call an ambulance to take his father-in-law to the hospital, Sheikh called his friends Muyeen Khan and Saleem Pasha from the Peace For Humanity Trust for help. They immediately rushed to Das’s house. Khan then called Mohammed Abaz, an auto driver, to take Karthik to a hospital.

When they reached the hospital, they were in for a rude shock. The report states that the hospital not only refused to check him but also turned them away.

“We then took my father-in-law to another hospital where the doctors declared it a natural death,” said Das, according to the report.

With no close relatives and not many coming forward to help during a tragedy, Das and his family were worried how the funeral could be held.

But Abaz, Khan and Pasha stood by them. While the men made arrangements for the funeral, they brought the women from their community to provide solace and consolation.

The women took charge of Uma and the baby and Minnu and brought freshly cooked food for the family. They made sure that they ate even though the family was too shattered by the death.

After dinner, the neighbours took turns to stay with the family. They kept an all-night watch, said Abaz, according to the article.

“On Friday morning, the rituals began and as we were not aware of Hindu rituals, we followed their instructions. I along with Saleem Pasha, Abdul Hafeez and Sohail shouldered the body until the last rites were carried out while Kauser Begum, Shamma and Naima lit incense sticks and stood beside the family. We took him in an ambulance to the Hebbal crematorium where the funeral was held. We were all maintaining physical distance and kept our masks on,” said Khan.

Pintu, the deceased man’s son is very thankful. He said: “We were really stressed about how we would manage the funeral during the lockdown. I can’t express how grateful I am that my Muslim neighbours came to our help without once considering our religion.”