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When Muslims shouldered a Hindu neighbour’s bier in Jaipur

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Muslim neighbours carry Rajendra Bagari's body to the cremation ground in Jaipur. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Muslim neighbours carry Rajendra Bagari’s body to the cremation ground in Jaipur. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint


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Jaipur: When 36-year-old Rajendra Bagari died at sunset Sunday, his cousin Anju did not know what to do with the body. Apart from his younger brother and an uncle, there were no men around to carry the bier to the cremation ground 4 km from his house in Jaipur’s Shastri Nagar.

“When he died Sunday evening, several people came to our home as we grieved. We are the only Hindu family in the area we live in, and our Muslim neighbours came to comfort us at the time,” Anju, a rag-picker, told ThePrint.

Bagari had been suffering from cancer of the throat for two and a half months. Due to the 21-day nationwide lockdown announced on 24 March, none of Bagari’s relatives from outside Jaipur could come for his funeral.

His Muslim neighbours then stepped in and decided to help. On Monday, they did everything — from chanting ‘Ram naam satya hai’ to carrying the ‘arthi handi’, traditionally done by the eldest son in the family.

Muslim neighbours carry Rajendra Bagari's body to the cremation ground in Jaipur. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Muslim neighbours carry Rajendra Bagari’s body to the cremation ground in Jaipur. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Muslim neighbours next to Rajendra Bagari's body at the cremation ground in Jaipur. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Muslim neighbours next to Rajendra Bagari’s body at the cremation ground in Jaipur. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Muslim neighbours carrying wood for the last rites of Rajendra Bagari in Jaipur. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Rajendra Bagari’s Muslim neighbours carry wood for his last rites in Jaipur. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint

“It was the least we could do,” Mohamed Faheem Qureishi, Bagari’s neighbour told ThePrint. “There were no Hindu people in the area. It was painful to see them struggle, and because we have known them, we decided to step in.”

The priest at the cremation ground, Nathunath Swamy, thought it nothing short of a miracle. “I’ve never in my 15 years of being a priest seen anything like this,” he said. “This kind of unity can protect us from even coronavirus.”

Jaipur priest Nathunath Swamy at the cremation ground. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Jaipur priest Nathunath Swamy at the cremation ground. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint

Also read: Will know impact of 21-day lockdown this week or next, says top Modi govt expert


‘Could not take him to hospital’

The lockdown put Bagari’s family at a special disadvantage, Anju said. They were able to stock up on medication since the announcement, but Rajendra’s health began deteriorating.

“First he complained of pain and stopped working, then he stopped eating. When his condition worsened, I wanted to take him to the State Cancer Institute where he was being treated, but there was no way to reach there,” she told ThePrint, adding she feared police action if they ventured out.

Rajendra Bagari's cancer report card. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Rajendra Bagari’s medical reports file. | Photo: Praveen Jain/ThePrint

While Anju is a rag-picker, Bagari sold plastic items such as buckets for a living. Incomes of both came to a grinding halt after the lockdown came into effect.

“The family was struggling to feed themselves adequately, and so some of us also shared our ration with them,” said Abdul Hamid, another neighbour.

Coronavirus and communalism

After Islamic movement Tablighi Jamaat’s religious congregation in New Delhi in mid-March resulted in a spike in India’s Covid-19 cases, Muslims across the country have reportedly faced discrimination and been blamed for spreading the virus.

“This Hindu-Muslim (fight) needs to stop,” said Faheem. “We must stand together, especially during times like this.”

Bagari’s family expressed their gratitude for the help their Muslim neighbours rendered. But other worries still remain.

“We were relieved they came to help us. But if this lockdown continues, I’m afraid of being pushed into complete destitution,” Anju said.


Also read: A woman reads the Quran, 13-yr-old says ‘I’m scared’: How Jaipur is dealing with Covid-19


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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