A 15-year-old girl lit the funeral pyre of his 52-year-old father, who passed away battling COVID-19 in Noida, with support from policemen who made arrangements for the cremation after the locals refused to help the teenager and her mother.
The financially-weak family hailed from West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. The dead, along with his wife and daughter, stayed in Noida Sector 19, where he worked as the caretaker of a house. The owners of the house do not live here.
The police rushed to the aid of the family on Monday night, helping them arrange an ambulance to ferry the man to the district hospital in Sector 31, where he succumbed, and then to the crematorium in Sector 94 on Tuesday, according to officials.
“Since the man was a COVID-19 patient, there was no help for the girl and her mother, who were left to fend for themselves as no one from the neighbourhood came forward to support them with hospitalisation when his condition turned critical or for the cremation,” local police post in-charge Hari Singh told PTI.
When the man’s condition deteriorated on Monday, his daughter sought help but none came from the locals, after which she went out of the house frantically searching for assistance.
Around 9 pm, she came across a vehicle of the Uttar Pradesh Police’s emergency 112 service on the road and asked for help. The officials in the vehicle relayed the message and the local police chowki personnel reached the house to help the family.
“We also tried finding some help from the locals, but since it is a pandemic situation, no one came forward. Somehow, an ambulance was arranged and the man was rushed to the district hospital, but unfortunately he could not be saved,” Mr Singh said.
The body was then brought back to the Sector 19 house and a memo issued from the hospital, after which the girl and her mother again sought help from the police, who went beyond the call of their duty and made arrangements for the cremation.
“There were three personnel from the chowki, the ambulance driver and myself. We arranged the “havan” material and the wood that was used for the funeral. There was a rush at the crematorium but we requested the local officials and seeing the condition of the family, a priest also agreed to help,” sub-inspector Mr Singh said.
The funeral took place around 5 pm, he said, adding that since no male member of the family was present, the dead’s daughter performed the last rites.
According to Hindu traditions, the last rites are performed by a male member of a family.
According to Mr Singh, at the time of “mukhagni“, even the priest said: “beti beta sab ek samaan hain (girl or boy, all are equal)”.
Gautam Buddh Nagar in western Uttar Pradesh is one of the worst-hit districts in the state by the COVID-19 pandemic with a death death of 192 and over 7,000 active cases, official figures showed on Wednesday.