By Neyaz Farooquee
The police told Mohd Sharif that his 22-year-old son, a doctor, had died in an accident. Only a shirt was recovered, that too after a month. The body was not found, so even the last rites could not be performed. This shattered him. After that, he decided that if he could help it, no dead person’s body would ever remain unclaimed. “After that unfortunate day in March 1992, I have performed the last rites of more than 1,500 bodies in Faizabad,” he says. “A Hindu priest helps me in performing the last rites if the bodies are of Hindus.” Sharif chacha, as he is affectionately called by locals, has put boards at strategic locations in the small town near Lucknow. The message on the board reads, “Koi Hindu hai na Musalman, sab hain insaan” (One is neither Hindu nor Muslim, all are human). A cycle mechanic by profession, Sharif earns a meagre Rs 5,000 per month, which is hardly sufficient to support his family. So the Rs 500-600 needed for each ritual are collected by a committee that he has formed. Suffering from a kidney ailment, Sharif bravely performs the last rites of the rotting bodies whose smell is enough to drive lesser mortals away. “I am worried no one is coming forward to take the responsibility after me,” he says.
‘I have performed the last rites of more than 1,500 unclaimed bodies’
SHARIF MAY BE REACHED AT +91 92358 53230