In times when the nation seems splitting along the lines of religion, this octogenarian cycle mechanic makes you feel otherwise.
Barely a few miles from Ayodhya, the epicentre of Hindu-Muslim conflict in India, Mohd Shareef ensures dignity in death for Hindus and Muslims alike.
For the past 25 years, Shareef Chacha, as he is popularly known, performs last rites of unclaimed dead bodies. So, far, he has ensured last rites for around 4000 bodies.
One wonders what could be the motivation for him to do this seemingly ‘odd job’. Well, it was a personal tragedy that brought out the redeemer in him.
“I lost my young son, Raees, in 1992. I kept looking for him for around a month but I could only find his decomposed body stuffed in a gunny bag. He was murdered. The body was beyond recognition and could be identified only by the tailor’s tag on the neck of his shirt,” said Shareef Chacha.
He added, “My son’s death and the treatment meted out to his body left me devastated. But the tragedy also left me with a resolve that I will ensure dignity in death for unclaimed bodies.”
But no matter how good a cause he has taken up, it still requires money. “Cremating body costs around 3 to 4 thousand rupees while burying it costs around six thousand rupees,” said Mohd Shareef, adding, “On an average, I perform last rites of around a dozen bodies each month. I do not expect the Government to help because all I have got from successive governments is a heap of hollow promises. There is no dearth of good people in the society and they help me regularly and I manage to pull on. Allah is getting it done and I am doing it.”
Describing how times have changed, he said, “Earlier, when I was healthier, I used to physically do most of the work. But now I am very weak. Also, over the years, the costs have spiralled too much, so it is tough, but as I said, Allah takes care.”
But the fact remains that this elderly Good Samaritan needs our help to champion the noble cause. A couple of journalists have put together an online fundraiser for Shareef Chacha and it is almost halfway through the target of raising Rs 1 lakh.
So in case you find the idea of supporting Shareef Chacha worth it, visit this link to make your donation.