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INSPIRING: Performed last rites of thousands of unclaimed bodies, now nation honours him

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BHOPAL: Mohammad Sharif who has been peforming last rites for unclaimed bodies and has ensured funeral to thousands of Hindus (and burial for Muslims) whose bodies had either no claimant or could not be identified, has been selected for the civilian honour, Padma Sri.

Of the thousands of people whose last rites he performed, there were mutilated bodies recovered on the railway tracks as well as decomposed remains. Several of them are victims of tragedies and unfortunate circumstaces in life, who have no one around to recognise or give them a decent funeral.

But the elderly man ensures that they get proper last rites--the dignity every person deserves in death. The self-less social work of Sharif, 82, who lives in Ayodhya, was known and he had earned enormous respect in his lifetime but his work has finally been recognised by the nation as well.

Sharif's son Raees, a young man, had gone for work when he went missing and was found dead during the 1992 riots. The family came to know about the death much later. The body was mutilated as it was devoured by stray animals. It was this personal tragedy after which he decided to conduct last rites for every unclaimed body.

In between his work as a cycle repairer, Sharif runs to hospital, police station, crematorium and grave yards. Though 'Sharif Chacha' was known not only in Ayodhya, Faizabad and Uttar Pradesh, but also in rest of the country, the decision to honour him, has again brought national attention to his work. 

There is another example in Karnataka. Ayub Ahmed, 39, a native of Mysore, goes whenever he gets to know about an unclaimed body. He ensures that the dead get dignified farewell. Clearly, there are heroes amongst us and we must recognize their contribution, as well as ensure that more people learn and get motivated to work for the society.

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Journalist for more than 20 years. Had started his career with National Mail in the nineties. Worked as Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, as an Assistant Editor with DB Post, later Contributing Editor with The Huffington Post, writes for First Post, The Wire, Newsd & several other major publications.