Businessman Kashif Pasha’s help in organising final rites of a Hindu woman from a helpless North Indian family in Bengaluru has made headlines in the City’s dailies and earned him encomiums from people across communities. Pasha, a resident of Bismillahnagar, runs a wedding function hall and has a construction firm which also deals with real estate. He devoted a whole fasting day of Ramazan to arrange cremation of the 65-year old woman who lived with his techie son in an apartment in the southern outskirts of the city.
It was 5:44 am on May 10 when Pasha was preparing to go to bed after having spent the night in worship. His cellphone rang and the man on the other end was his old acquaintance Mr. Nanjundaswamy, Inspector General of Police in Ballari district. The cop had known him for his voluntary work with Mercy Mission and other NGOs during Covid-I last year. He requested him to contact one Suryakanth (named changed on request) whose mother had expired and the family had no one to help perform the last rites.
The family had lived in an apartment near the Central Jail in Parappana Agrahara at the southern extremity of the city. Yet none from among the apartment residents came forth with offer of help. Suryakanth called up his relatives back in his native town in Bihar who in turn contacted Nanjundaswamy whom they had known for some time, pleading to mobilize help from some quarter in Bengaluru under lockdown.
Giving up plans of rest, Pasha got into action with a clutch of friends. He called ambulance to ferry the body from hospital to apartment for final rites and a hearse to take it to the electric crematorium. The first port of call among the crematoriums was reserved for Covid-negative patients. They were asked to approach Kudlu Gate Crematorium where protocols allowed bodies of patients who were Covid-negative.
While he managed to reach the crematorium at 11 am, long queue took a heavy toll of time. Only at around 5 pm the cremation could be concluded. Conditions in the city were such no one from the apartment, office where Suryakanth worked and the sports club and social circles where he was a member could offer help.
Beholden to Kashif Pasha’s response to his distress call to help a complete stranger in a city under lockdown, Nanjundaswamy posted the story on whatsapp. He said he did not think Pasha would venture out personally and do all this to a person he did not know. The cop has highlighted the India’s secular traditions which tie the diverse communities in fraternal bonds and has appealed to the common masses not to heed the venomous messages from leaders and activists afflicted with bigotry. The viral post has travelled far and wide and Pasha has been submerged with messages showering accolades.
Curiously, Pasha still does not know precisely to which State in North India the family hailed from. Nor did he try to know where the techie worked. “I am least interested in details. It was my duty as a human being to help another one from the same species and that’s it”, he commented when this scribe spoke to him.
M A Siraj is Bengaluru based seasoned journalist who writes for a variety of newspapers including The Hindu, and news portals.