Skip to main content

The Man Who Buried Bodies For Free During India's Lockdown as Graveyard Workers Were Over-Whelmed

Sitting comfortably behind his shop counter Sajaad Ahmad Khan, 38, hands over a bill to a customer as he waves them goodbye.

By Muhktur Zahoor

in Kashmir, India

He’s owned the Houseful department store for a decade now and it‘s well-known in the community for providing key essentials to locals.

Bread, toiletries, beverages and even masks can be found in the small shop situated in Jammu and Kashmir, India.

And when the country's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, declared a national lockdown in March 2020 due to the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus, Sajaad’s shop was among the 23 in the region providing home deliveries.

It remained - as expected - a lifeline for many families that would have otherwise gone without.

India went into a complete lockdown on March 24 - much earlier than other countries and at that time it had confirmed 519 cases and nine deaths from the virus.

The 68-day shutdown proved devastating for Kashmir residents with some losing their jobs and the ability to make ends meet.

The strict measures and their consequences for residents meant Sajaad's days were spent trekking long routes to serve the dozens of families in need.

But despite the several lockdowns throughout the pandemic the virus did not slow down.

Hospitals soon ran out of beds, oxygen and medicine between April and May 2021 and hundreds of dead bodies were left out in the open because crematoriums and cemeteries were full.

Getting a clear picture of the total number of infections in the country since India recorded its first case proved difficult because of poor record-keeping and a lack of widespread testing. But local media reports claim the figures could be double even triple the official count.

Only members who have access to this post can read and write comments.