Malad man lays unclaimed COVID-19 bodies to rest

Updated: 15 August, 2020 07:35 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Sanju Tusamad, 33, from Malad has been voluntarily helping the civic body for the past four months to cremate or bury more than 100 bodies in Kandivli, Borivli, Malad and Jogeshwari

Sanju Tusamad runs a mutton shop and uses his earnings to support his family and buy white sheets needed to wrap the bodies
Sanju Tusamad runs a mutton shop and uses his earnings to support his family and buy white sheets needed to wrap the bodies

At a time when the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had to offer a R500 incentive to encourage mortuary staffers to help cremate COVID-19 bodies, 33-year-old Sanju Tusamad had already started doing it voluntarily. A Malad resident, Tusamad has been helping the civic body for the past four months to cremate or bury unclaimed bodies of COVID-19 patients in Kandivli, Borivli, Malad and Jogeshwari.

Tusamad started helping the civic body in disposing of unclaimed bodies around four to five years back when he used to be an ambulance driver. "Ambulance drivers would often overcharge relatives of patients, but I would charge half the amount. Many bodies used to remain unclaimed, so I decided to perform their last rites," he said. Tusamad now owns a mutton shop and uses his income to support his family and purchase white sheets needed to wrap the bodies.

Sanju Tusamad runs a mutton shop and uses his earnings to support his family and buy white sheets needed to wrap the bodies

Over 100 bodies
"As relatives of many patients who die of COVID-19 stay in other districts and states, they often can't make it to the city for the last rites. Hence, I take care of it, and so far, I've done it for more than 100 bodies of COVID-19 patients," he added.

While he takes the bodies of Hindu patients to the crematoriums in Dahanukarwadi, Daulat Nagar and Jogeshwari, those of Muslim patients are handed over to madrassas and he also gets in touch with a church group for Christian patients. He even helps relatives of those who succumb to the virus by arranging ambulances.

Sanju Tusamad. Pic/Anurag Ahire
Sanju Tusamad. Pic/Anurag Ahire

Tusamad said that when the pandemic was at its peak, he was handling up to 10 COVID bodies daily and managed to do it with help from the BMC and Rotary Club of Bombay, North West Malad.

PPE kits in return
Sanjog Kabare, assistant municipal commissioner of P North ward said the civic body gives Tusamad PPE kits in return for the help he provides. "He has been helping the BMC and the police to dispose of the bodies of COVID-19 patients that would otherwise spread the disease. He does it voluntarily at a time when no one else would do it," he said.

Lauding his efforts, Nigam Patel, member of Rotary Club, said, "During the complete lockdown, many elderly people were dying due to the infection and their relatives living in slums were skeptical about handling the bodies. The BMC asked for help and we all got involved in it. He has been working tirelessly and we support him by providing ambulances and food for his family. We also bear the cost of his antigen tests," Patel said. Given the risks of dealing with COVID bodies, Tusamad has to wear a PPE kit and get tested regularly. So far he has tested negative for the infection 12 times.

12
No. of times Tusamad has tested negative for COVID-19

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First Published: 15 August, 2020 07:33 IST

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