Mahadev buries the unclaimed bodies that are found in and around Bangalore. He has been doing this from the past 45 years, precisely from 1971 – when he was 8 years old. He had brought his mother to Bangalore’s Victoria Hospital from Tamil Nadu for her treatment in 1970. They reached the hospital, but due to some unknown reasons, the treatment was not done and his mother died outside the hospital premise. At that time, there was a person called Krishna who used to bury the unclaimed bodies back then. He buried Mahadev’s mother. Since Mahadev was alone, Krishna Bhaya took care of him and taught him what he did.
From the next year itself, Mahadev started to bury the dead with Krishna Bhaya. Slowly, he took over the job at a very young age. By the year 2000, he had buried over 88,888 bodies. After that, he has not tracked any record of it. In a day, he buries over 6-15 unclaimed bodies. When asked if it was his duty to do this, he said that no one has appointed or given him a job to do it. He does it because if he does not, no one would. The Police or the Municipality is responsible for the burial of the unclaimed. But as for the ‘civilised’ people we all are, no one is willing to do it.
He has a van which was donated by the district collector in 2005, by which he carries the dead bodies. He says he does not have a driving license because all the Police officers are his friends and a smile is all you need to deal with it.
For each body he buries, he gets Rs. 300 from the Police officers. The Police however mostly get the money from the shopkeeper of the shop nearby to which the dead body is found. The shopkeepers pay whatever is needed just to clear the body out of their premise. “Everyone goes on shouting about Swatch Bharat and Swatch Bangalore. But till now, no organization or government has cared to even acknowledge that there are humans dying and decomposing on the streets and something should be done,” says a disheartened Mahadev. Currently the major challenge he is facing is the lack of burial place as Bangalore has expanded too much and due to urbanization it becomes difficult to find the place.
The person who is now dead in the streets might have been an influential person once. Might have a large family, might have controlled people, and also might have had lots of friends. Whatever it is, he now stays calm in a corner. Mahadev stands beside him, literally as a guardian of the dead. Now his two sons too provide a helping hand to him during Sundays and holidays.
He covers him with a cloth and with a helper, carries it to the van to give him the final respect he is ought to get. Passersby cover their noses and look away in disgust. And to the onlooker who stares too much, Mahadev asks “What is it?” “Nothing”, comes the reply, and then quickly withers away. Maybe it is Mahadev’s way of dealing with the living. He has been awarded by our Former President Mr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
To contact Mahadev- 9845144032