Almost a year after getting infected by Covid while helping people in conducting the last rites of patients who died due to the virus infection, former Delhi MLA Jitender Singh Shunty has once again started doing the same. Shunty provides help through his social service organisation “Shahid Bhagat Singh Seva Dal (SBSSD) by facilitating transportation of coronavirus victims’ bodies and also organises funerals when family members or relatives don’t come forward to conduct the last rites.
Shunty, a former MLA from Shahdara and the founder of the SBSSD which has about two dozen volunteers and 18 hearse vans and ambulances, arranged transportation for over one thousand bodies of those who succumbed to the virus infection for the last rites. About 300 last rites were performed by Shunty and his team in the absence of family members of the dead.
“Since the outbreak of the disease last year, we have transported 1,084 bodies to cremation grounds and performed last rites of 296 patients, whose families weren’t able to conduct them because either they were in quarantine or were reluctant to participate in the cremation due to coronavirus fear. Some have left the body at the mortuary or hospital. We performed last rites according to their faith and religion,” said Shunty.
The former MLA and his organisation on Thursday transported and conducted the last rites of 33 persons. Shunty, who received the Padma Shri this year for social service, said that the current wave of the pandemic is more dangerous than last year’s.
“Last year, the bodies we cremated were mostly of elderly people but now younger people are losing their lives due to Covid. Recently we cremated the bodies of a 14-year-old boy and a 20-year-old girl. It is shocking and painful that now young people are losing lives to the virus,” Shunty said.
Shunty informed that there was an incident where a body was lying inside the house as the rest of the family members also tested Covid positive and were not allowed to go out.
“We went there and following all the Covid protocols took out the body and conducted the last rites in the absence of close family members,” he said.
Last year, while conducting the last rites of people who lost their lives to Covid, Shunty and his family got infected. “Being personally involved in the service, I had tested Covid positive in July last year. Later, my wife and two sons aged 26 and 34 years also contracted the deadly virus. However, this failed to deter the family dedication to serve others,” he said,
Shunty’s organisation is primarily active in three districts in the trans-Yamuna area, “east, northeast and Shahdara” and works closely with the district officials. Besides the beneficiaries of his service, he has also been receiving appreciation from government officials.