Rattled by a recent incident in Hyderabad in which the dead body of a Muslim was buried in a Hindu cremation ground after he was denied burial in five graveyards, the Telangana Wakf Board has set up a help desk to receive such complaints and take action against the caretakers of graveyards refusing to allow burials.
The Help desk has been formed to receive and act on the complaints about the caretakers refusing to allow burial or demanding money. During last two days, the help desk arranged the burial of 10 bodies. The Wakf Board also released Rs 5,000 for the last rites of a poor man.
This 24X7 helpline has eight employees of the Wakf Board. It has so far received 100 telephone calls about caretakers of various graveyards and dargahs for refusing to provide resting place for the deceased.
Wakf Board Chairman Mohammed Saleem said they will take legal action against caretakers refusing to allow burials.
A meeting of Wakf Board is scheduled on June 6 to discuss the issue and take a decision on managing the affairs of the graveyards and also the action against caretakers either refusing burials or demanding money.
The Wakf Board has made it clear that no graveyard can refuse to allow burial of Muslim bodies, irrespective of the cause of the death and the nativity of the deceased.
It issued the instruction last week after a Muslim man had to be buried in a Hindu cremation ground after caretakers of at least five Muslim graveyards allegedly denied him the place for burial over the fear that he could have died of COVID-19.
Some Hindu residents of the area came forward to help the relatives of the 55-year-old man bury him at the cremation site at Gandmguda on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
The man died of cardiac arrest at his residence on May 22 and his relatives approached at least five graveyards in the city for the burial.
Mutawallis or caretakers of the graveyards refused to allow the burial citing either by terming him a non-local or expressing apprehension that he could have died of coronavirus.
The incident sparked outrage with demands from different quarters to take action against the caretakers of the graveyards.
The Wakf Board has threatened criminal action against managing committees and caretakers of graveyards if they refuse to allow burial of Muslim bodies on any ground.
"Graveyards are not the personal property of managing committees or custodians. They are mere caretakers. Demanding money for the burial or denying the place for burial will not be tolerated," Saleem said.