Mangaluru: Voluntary helpers face challenges with increasing number of COVID bodies

Mafazah Sharafuddin
May 31, 2021


As is the situation all over India, in Mangaluru too, the burial and cremation of the bodies of COVID patients has become an issue. The workers are overworked and face a shortage of materials needed to complete their tasks in a safe and healthy manner. 

There are several challenges that have arisen during the pandemic. One among them in the sudden surge of deaths, meaning there are more dead bodies on a daily basis than the workers at crematoriums and burial grounds are equipped to handle. This has given way to several groups of volunteers who are taking the initiative to solve the problem. 

However, the volunteers too, are facing several problems. Without government aid, they have to pay for protective gear, PPE kits, gloves, masks, shields etc. from their own pocket. While sometimes the family of the deceased pay for the same, there have been many instances where the family simply cannot afford to do so. In these instances, volunteer organizations conduct burials on their own dime.

In addition to this, they have also been facing the issue that sometimes, the family of the deceased are too afraid to touch the body, in fear of infection. The volunteers have taken to cleaning the bodies, too, rather than just burying them as the families refrain from touching the bodies. 

With it being death due to COVID, the situation becomes more complex. The bodies have to be transported from the hospital or homes by people in protective gear. The equipment costs money, and since most of the work is done on a volunteer basis, there is no government aid. 

Owing to this, not all of the volunteers have sufficient protective equipment. This makes them susceptible to infection. It is a precarious situation as they are working closely with one another, if one of them gets infected, the others are likely to do the same. . They use the equipment they do have to perform the task with as much efficiency as they can, doing all they can to avoid infection.

Further, the transportation calls for another slew of issues. The transport of bodies is a task that has to be done promptly. Due to the lockdowns, the movement of civilians is restricted. The volunteers aren’t official workers, and therefore, find it hard to obtain passes to safely travel without police intervention. 

They are understaffed, as it is unpaid work done in a voluntary fashion. There are several other tasks they perform in addition to this, like arranging for beds, transporting medicine, ensuring that patients get the benefits of the Ayushman card etc. This leaves them overworked and busy all day. 

It goes as far as the workers not having time to stop for meals although part of the work they do is providing food to those waiting with their loved ones in the hospital and those out of work and hungry due to the lockdown. According to the workers, they don’t think of food, and eat when they can. That falls low on their list of worries. 

The majority of the current crisis falls to the lack of attention from the administration. When asked what they could use assistance with, the answers were many. This includes PPE kits, face masks, shields, gloves, passes for transport etc. 

However, a volunteer stated that the real help they would get is only from the government. He said that for now they are able to feed themselves while still providing assistance to people, and that without proper measures taken people would be left without food to eat. He said that there was a dire need of lockdowns to be implemented well, keeping measures for daily wage workers and those who cannot earn money during a lockdown. He said there was also a need for ambulances, and protective gear provided by the government to ensure that people can be transported safely. 

According to him, while there are plenty of medical colleges and hospitals in Mangalore, the surrounding areas are suffering and people are unable to seek treatment. While the volunteers are doing all they can to assist the patients, and help provide proper services for the deceased, there is only so much they can do. Without government aid, it will be impossible to continue this for as long as it needs to be done.


Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Dear CD team,
If you could devote a corner space for these voluntary organizations along with the way to donate to them, it would be very fruitful, as many people dont know these organizations.

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News Network
October 1,2021

India has registered 26,727 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, which is 13.6 per cent higher than yesterday. With this, the country's case tally has touched 3,37,66,707.

The daily case count on Thursday was 23,529, which was 24.7 per cent higher than what was recorded on Wednesday.

As many as 277 deaths were reported in the country in the last 24 hours, increasing the total death count to 4,48,339, according to the latest data released by the Union Health Ministry.

- The top five states which have registered maximum cases are Kerala with 15,914 cases, followed by Maharashtra with 3,063 cases, Tamil Nadu with 1,612 cases, Mizoram with 1,170 cases and Andhra Pradesh with 1,010 cases.

-At least 85.19 per cent of the new cases are reported from these five states, with Kerala alone responsible for 59.54 per cent of the new cases.

-277 deaths were reported in the country in the last 24 hours, increasing the total reported death count to 4,48,339.

-Maximum casualties were reported in Kerala (122), followed by Maharashtra with 56 daily deaths.

-India's recovery rate now stands at 97.86 per cent.

-A total of 28,246 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, which brings the total recoveries to 3,30,43,144 across the country.

-India's active caseload stands at 2,75,224. In the last 24 hours, active cases declined by 1,796.

-India has administered a total of 64,40,451 doses in the last 24 hours, which brings the total tally of doses administered to 89,02,08,007.

-A total of 15,20,899 samples were tested in the last 24 hours.


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News Network
October 11,2021

Bengaluru, Oct 11: The state government Monday hinted at starting schools in Karnataka for classes 1 to 5 after Dasara.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh said, "We will be convening a meeting of the technical committee after the Dasara festival. In the meeting, we will request them to give permission to start schools for classes 1 to 5."

He told reporters that if the technical committee does not give its permission, then it will be requested to grant permission to start schools for classes 3 to 5.

The government will also restart the midday meal programme after Dasara vacation, Nagesh said.

Replying to another query, he said a decision on setting up a school fee regulation committee will be taken after receiving the fee model report from other states.


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Open Letter by Individuals and Organizations
October 9,2021

Various media have reported that Hindutva fascist groups including ABVP, VHP and Bajrang Dal have opposed the decision of the St Aloysius College, Mangaluru a private autonomous college to name one of its parks after Human Rights and Adivasi Rights Activist Late Father Stan Swamy. They have threatened to stage a protest if the college goes ahead with the plan. Threats have been made by them stating that “the college will be responsible if any untoward incident takes place”.

We call upon the district administration and the police to take immediate action against these organizations for engaging in criminal intimidation and issuing such threats. They have absolutely no right to interfere in the goings on of the private institution. These organization have a stated purpose and history for violence, communal divisiveness and subscribe to an idea of our country, with scant regard to the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

This blatantly illegal behaviour is a consequence of the free run that is being given to these fascist organizations in coastal Karnataka. These organizations are imposing social apartheid, interfering in the private affairs of citizens and acting against the Constitutional principle of fraternity by engaging in daily acts of violence and intimidation with impunity. Members of these organizations have engaged in lynching of minorities across the country, conducting riots and engaging in violence to push minorities into second-class citizenship

Fr. Stan Swamy was a person who was falsely implicated in the cases pending against him and subject to the most inhuman treatment leading to his untimely death. Imprisoned at the age of 84 years while suffering from Parkinson’s disease, he was denied the most basic of rights, being deprived of even a sipper. He dedicated his entire life for the upliftment of the oppressed sections of society and was targeted precisely for this reason. We stand with Fr. Stan Swamy.
We demand that immediate action be taken against these fascist organization for their actions of criminal intimidation and the district administration and police provide adequate protection to the college to ensure that there is no interference in its private affairs.

1.    Campaign to Defend Democracy (Karnataka)
2.    All India Peoples Forum
3.    People’s Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL)
4.    A. John Vincent, Advocate, High Court Bench, Madurai
5.    Abha Rao
6.    Akhil Mythri, NIAS
7.    Alice, AEO
8.    Alwin, Jesuit
9.    Alwyn, Alumni
10.    Amar Jesani, Independent Consultant, Bioethics & Public Health
11.    Amod Shah, PhD Researcher
12.    Amulya D’Souza
13.    Anil Sadgopal, Former Professor & Dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University
14.    Archana Kaul, Srijanatmakanushi Sanstha
15.    Arindam Roy, CPI ML
16.    Ashiqa
17.    Ashish Kajla, Delhi Solidarity Group
18.    Avani Chokshi, All India Lawyers Association for Justice
19.    Basavalinga, Alumni
20.    Brian D
21.    Brinda Adige, Ananya Mahila Okkutta
22.    Cedric Prakash
23.    Chayanika Shah, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai
24.    Cheriyan Alexander
25.    Clifton D' Rozario, All India Lawyers Association for Justice
26.    Cynthia D
27.    Cynthia Stephen, Independent researcher
28.    Cyril, Alumni
29.    Deepak D'Souza    Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
30.    Dr.Mohan Rao, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan
31.    Dr.Sudhir Vombatkere, NAPM
32.    Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre
33.    Dwiji Guru, NAPM Karnataka
34.    Emmanuel David, HRDA
35.    Esmeralda D’mello, Justice Task force
36.    Francis
37.    Francis Balaraj, Indian Social Institute
38.    Frazer Mascarenhas, St. Peter's Parish
39.    G. Mary
40.    H (Laltu) Singh, AIFRTE
41.    Harsh Mander, Human rights and peace worker and writer
42.    Harshita, St. Claret College
43.    Hartman de Souza, Writer
44.    Jagdish Patel, Peoples Training and Research centre
45.    Jolly Chacko, Retd Govt Servant
46.    Joseph Xavier,    Indian Social Institute Bangalore
47.    Karuna, Journalist
48.    Kavita Srivastava, PUCL
49.    Kavya
50.    Lekha, All India Students' Association
51.    Madhu Bhushan, Women's rights activist/researcher
52.    Maimoona Mollah, AIDWA Delhi
53.    Manshi Asher, Nagrik Adhikar Manch, Kangra
54.    Manu
55.    Marian Furtado
56.    Mary Ann B
57.    Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM)
58.    Michael Rajamathi, St. Joseph's College, Bengaluru
59.    Milagrin, Alumni
60.    N Manu Chakravarthy, Individual
61.    N Thamizhseran
62.    N. Jayaram, PUCL
63.    Nandini Sundar, Sociologist
64.    Nisha Biswas
65.    P A Devaiah, All India Students' Association
66.    P. Sainath, Journalist
67.    Philo Thomas, Women's Welfare Centre
68.    Pieter Friedrich,Centre for Liberty and Peace in South Asia
69.    Prabhat Sharan, Journalist
70.    Prayer KC, Independent Doctor
71.    Ram Puniyani, All India Secular Forum
72.    Ramnarayan, Independent Ecologist, Educator
73.    Raphael Dsouza, The Bombay Catholic Sabha and All India Catholic Union
74.    Rohit Prajapati, Activist, Gujarat
75.    Rohit, AISA
76.    S Subramanian, Independent Researcher
77.    S.Krishnaswamy, Madurai District President, PUCL
78.    Sawani Shiraz
79.    Sejal Dand, Anna Suraksha Adhikar Abhiyan
80.    Selvaraj Arulnathan, Loyola College, Vettavalam
81.    Shashank SR, Research For Equity
82.    Shiva Shankar,IIT
83.    Shujayathulla, PUCL Bangalore
84.    Siraj Dutta, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha
85.    Sridhar Venkatesh, University of Michigan
86.    Sudha N, Independent Researcher-Activist
87.    Sultan Mahmud, All India Students Association
88.    Suraj Samrat
89.    Synthia
90.    T.Dlee
91.    Thomas Kailath
92.    Uma Shankari, Human rights organisation
93.    Usha, NMSWorks Software Pvt Ltd
94.    Vidya Dinker, Citizens Forum for Mangalore Development
95.    Vijayashree CS, National Institute of Advanced Studies
96.    Vinay Sreenivasa, Advocate
97.    Walter Fernandes, NESRC
98.    Xavier Jeyaraj SJ, Society of Jesus
99.     Vasant Kumar


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