Qasab's hush-hush burial makes death registration office cry foul
26/11 terrorist's burial after execution in Yerawada jail sparks row; Birth and Death Registration Office says licence should have been obtained from it for funeral, but prison officials claim such permission not required for bodies interred on jail premises
Ajmal Amir Qasab was executed amidst much secrecy in the Yerawada Central Jail on Wednesday morning after serving four years in Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, giving many a reason to celebrate. His body was buried at an undisclosed location within the jail premises in a hush-hush manner, and this has raised the hackles of senior officials of the Birth and Death Registration Office of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in Kasba Peth.
The officials claim that no one approached the office to seek permission before burying the body, which is mandatory, and the jail authority claims that the process was not initiated for fear that information of the operation could leak. Adding to the confusion, a senior official of Yerawada Jail said on condition of anonymity that since the land where Qasab is buried belongs to the Maharashtra Prison Department, no permission is required from the PMC.
MiD DAY visited the Birth and Death Registration Office in Vishrambaug wada and confirmed that the jail authority had not collected the crucial document before going ahead with the burial. When asked whether the licence requirement was discussed, the senior official of Yerawada Jail said since it was a matter of national security, initiating the procedures could have prematurely leaked crucial information. The officer added that it was not the first time that last rites of an inmate have been conducted on the jail premises. In the past when a death sentence was carried out and relatives refused to accept the body, the funeral was conducted in the open field on the jail premises.
But according to the PMC officials and the Birth and Death Registration Act 1969, no one is exempt from the formality. “According to the state’s Birth and Death Registration Act of 1969, it is compulsory to get license from the municipal corporation to bury or cremate a dead body, irrespective of cause of death or religious belief of the family of the deceased. This is done so that the death, wherever it happens in the city, can be registered. In Qasab’s case, the jail authority didn’t approach our offices for such licence,” said Dr Ramesh Chavan, medical officer of Birth and Death Registration Office, Kasba peth.
Chavan added that it might be possible that the government was treating this as a special case, but there is still no provision mentioned in the Act where special cases are exempt from acquiring licence. “Even if the family of a dead person wants to carry the body outside the boundaries of the city, they need a special transfer certificate from us with separate permission from the commissioner of police. This itself shows the importance of licence,” Chavan said.
He said that his office did not receive any message from the state or union government informing that Qasab should be treated as a special case.
Filling up the licence form
THE form includes a registration number and a special code number issued by the PMC. The form also includes section for cause of death and requires to be duly signed by a doctor. If the age of the deceased is above 60, then a letter is required from the respective local corporator before a pass can be issued.