Man who arranged 267 Covid victims’ funerals feels let down

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New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) Amid the grave fear of coronavirus infection, a man obsessed with helping others has performed funeral of 267 Covid-19 victims. He continued on the mission even at the cost of contracting Covid-19 himself and eventually spreading it to his family.
But Jitendra Singh Shunty who performed yeoman service is a bitter man today. “When I needed help, everyone deserted me. Even the Delhi government didn’t help,” he said.
Over the past four months, Shunty, who runs the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Seva Dal in Vivek Vihar of the national capital, deployed 18 vehicles to transport bodies to burial/ cremation places. He was assisted by a team of 22 similar-minded volunteers.
He not only helped perform the funeral, but also transported as many as 251 Covid-19 patients from their homes to isolation centers and back.
Of the 267 funerals, Shunty’s team performed last rites of 37 people whose family members couldn’t make to it to the city due to lockdown. Also, family members of seven had abandoned the body for the fear of getting infected.
However, the man who was extending the helping hand to others himself got infected. “On June 30, I tested positive along with my two sons and wife. My security guard, his family and the maid too got infected.
“It was then I realized how helpless I was. Not only the acquaintances stopped coming, no one from the Delhi government made a single call to enquire about us. I felt let down,” Shunty told IANS.
The Arvind Kejriwal government was yet to reach out to him, he added.
“I realized one needs to be a celebrity to get help as a Covid-19 patient. Only my close friends continued to stand with us. They brought the essentials and delivered that at our lift. We collected them from there,” he said.
But what prompted him to do the service, defying all risks? “Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a call for all of us to serve during this pandemic. And we decided, we too should help,” he said.
However, he expressed serious doubts on the number of Covid-19 fatalities, being announced by the Delhi government.
“Many are dying at home isolations. There are hospitals that are refusing to admit patients. Hence, the number of deaths in hospitals is going down and the government is considering deaths at home as natural,” he said.
Shunty, who has seen how hospitals, crematoriums and transportation worked during the pandemic, is also not too happy with a section of doctors who are being hailed as Corona warriors. “Some doctors are considering it a festival, a means to earn during the pandemic,” he rued.
After 244 cremations and 23 burials (22 were Muslims and one Christian), grossly ignored by the authorities as well as himself getting the dreaded disease, Shunty has not lost the hope.
Four months down the lane, as Shunty gets ready for another day he says people are learning to live with the disease. “We will continue to help with oxygen, medicine and essential goods,” he said with a smile.
The crisis brings out the best in some people. And what can be better example of this than Jitendra Singh Shunty of Vivek Vihar!

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