Performed last rites for 4,000 unclaimed bodies in two years, claims girl

| | New Delhi
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Performed last rites for 4,000 unclaimed bodies in two years, claims girl

Sunday, 28 January 2024 | Staff Reporter | New Delhi

Transforming grief into a mission, a 26-year-old woman in Delhi has been performing the last rites of unclaimed bodies for nearly two years now, right after losing her brother to a tragic death.

Pooja Sharma, a resident of the Shahdara locality has performed the last rites of several bodies that remained unclaimed in hospitals for long and possibly had no family connections to give them a dignified funeral. “In the last two years, I have performed the last rites of around 4,000 bodies with no known family or connections,” Sharma claimed.

“I lost my brother on March 13, 2022 to a tragic murder. Since then, I have turned my personal tragedy into a source of solace for others,” she added.

Shedding light on the tragic incident that changed the course of her life, Pooja told PTI, “My elder brother, who was 30-year-old, was shot dead in front of me in a small fight and after hearing this news, my father went into coma.”

Right after the second day of performing the last rituals for her brother, Pooja made an unwavering commitment to help others.

Since that fateful day, Pooja has extended her caring touch beyond her immediate family, managing the tasks and responsibilities of those who are left with no one to look after them.

“I used to contact the police and government hospitals to seek information about bodies whose families or whereabouts remained unknown initially.”

However, now the police and government hospitals reach out to me if they have any information about an unclaimed body, she added.

Pooja claims to arrange for the last rites of these bodies with her grandfather’s pension. “It takes around Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 for performing the rituals. I stay with my father and grandmother, and my father works as a contract-based driver in Delhi Metro.

With my grandfather’s pension, I arrange everything,” she said.

Highlighting the challenges and social prejudice faced by her for doing this work, Pooja said, “Many people see the work that I do as a taboo and my friends’ families don’t allow them to meet me.”

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