Mumbai: Helpers handling unclaimed bodies get a helping hand

Thane resident and mid-day reader Sachin Jog arrive as Santa for helpers handling unclaimed bodies

Moved by the plight of Kaniya (38) and Rizwan (30), the two men who help the city police dispose of unclaimed bodies, a Thane-based family has stepped forward to provide them with safety gear. On March 20, mid-day published an investigative story titled, A deadly job, exposing the risks the two take while disposing unclaimed/ unidentified bodies.

Also read: The shocking truth of how the dead are dealt with in Mumbai

Helpers dispose of the body of a TB patient using their new gear. pics/ajinkya sawant
Helpers dispose of the body of a TB patient using their new gear. pics/ajinkya sawant

“After reading the story, my wife Nita (49) and son Samarth (13), spontaneously suggested that we do something. We went to Dava Bazar on Princess Street, searching for the right equipment,” said Jog, a Thane businessman.

Sachin Jog
Sachin Jog

It was a regular day for Kaniya and his brother Manoj Solanki (33), who replaced Rizwan (the worker featured in the original article). They were on their way with constable D P Ware to dispose another unclaimed body, this time from JJ postmortem center mortuary. The deceased was identified as Raghuveer (50), who died during the course of TB treatment at JJ hospital on November 11, 2015. Since then, the body has been lying at the JJ mortuary. The JJ Marg Police, which had admitted him to the hospital after finding him lying on the footpath, could not trace his relatives.

Jog visited the JJ mortuary on Saturday to handover a plastic bag containing the safety gear.

An emotional Kaniya said, “I am grateful to Sachinji for having thought of our working conditions.” Ware was pleased too. He instructed Kaniya to get a lock and key, so that the material could be kept safely inside the police hearse van.

“So far, nine workers and two policemen have lost their lives while doing this work. The latest victim was 33-year-old Babu Solanki, who passed away last week at JJ hospital while being treated. Babu would dispose of unclaimed bodies from Cooper and Bhagwati postmortem centers. Because it’s a high risk job, it’s tough to fill vacancies,” said Kaniya, who earns a wage of R100 per body disposed.

In the past too, Jog has provided 550 free disposable masks to Thane traffic police in 2006, after seeing them inhale toxic fumes while negotiating traffic. “We should wake up and do something for our unsung heroes. What they are doing is a service to humanity,” said Jog.

Jog donated the following items:
Gumboots 2 pairs
Gloves 4 pairs
Surgical gloves 48 pairs
Disposable skull caps 100
Disposable aprons 50
Face masks 100
Germicidal soaps 8

Police Surgeon Dr SM Patil said he was shocked to learn from the mid-day article of the nine workers who have been lifting unclaimed dead bodies without safety gear, and that vacancies in the city have not been filled. He said, “We will surely extend all medical treatment, including mandatory health check-up for these workers. We have made it mandatory for all post-mortem centers in the city, to get a mandatory health check-up of their staffers done every three months at the Nagpada police hospital, failing which the medical officer in-charge of the center, will be held responsible.”

Commissioner speak
Mumbai Commissioner of Police, Datta Padsalgikar, said, “All police stations have been instructed to use money from the investigation fund for disposal of unclaimed and unidentified bodies in their jurisdiction. The investigating police officer can even claim expenses (more than R1,500) by giving a written submission. No bill is needed to clear the claims.” The commissioner also said that Jog’s work was welcome. “However, I will ensure that the government too provides basic gears to these workers.”

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