COVID-19 Samaritans: Strangers Lit Funeral Pyre Of Unattended Victims

Bhubaneswar: These are strange times. It’s bringing out the worst in many and the best from others. It happened more than once in Odisha last week.

When their near and dear ones shunned the deceased, neighbours or strangers came forward to arrange their funerals.

Vendor Premananda Sahu, 64, died on Friday after being in a Deogarh hospital for three days with comorbidities including kidney problems, paralysis and a brain tumour. He had undergone COVID-19 test, but the report was negative, according to The Telegraph.

When neighbours rang up Sahu’s two sons, who live at a village 70 km away, they refused to come and perform their father’s last rites. “They said they were busy. They later switched off their mobiles,” local resident and district Bar association secretary Siddheswar Guru was quoted as saying.

It was left to 62-year-old Khireswar Pradhan, owner of a local cinema that had closed down in 2006, to arrange for the funeral. Sahu used to sell snacks at his theatre 14 years ago.

“When my cinema was running, Sahu had a snacks bar there. We had become close… he would sometimes run errands for me,” Pradhan said. “Even after my cinema closed, I kept in touch with him because I valued the relationship.”

Guru informed that Pradhan lit the pyre and performed the rituals.

In another incident, after a policeman died of suspected coronavirus, two journalists donned PPE kits as the hospital staff declined to touch the dead body and carried it to an ambulance.

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