The body of a 70-year-old Hindu woman, Radha, which was rotting in the mortuary of a government hospital in Lahore (Pakistan) for the last five days because of the absence of a shamshaan ghat (cremation ground) in the Punjab capital, has finally been buried at the historic Miani Sahib Graveyard, which is a graveyard of Muslims, reports Amir Mir from Lahore in the Daily News and Analysis(DNA) newspaper of Mumbai in India.
Radha, who had been living in a senior citizens home since 1997 because she had no relatives in the city, died in Mayo Hospital on May 30. Her body remained at the city morgue for five days because of the absence of a shamshan ghat in the city.
The burial of Radha’s body instead of cremation as per Hindu customs has highlighted the long standing demand of the Hindu community for a shamshan ghat. Hindu Balmik Sudhar Sabha General Secretary, Amar Nath Randhawa said that the Hindu community in Lahore offered all-out cooperation to police for cremating Radha’s body but the police did not hand over the body, fearing that they would use it to stage a protest on The Mall to press for the shamshan ghat demand. He said Hindus in Lahore either take their dead ones to Nankana Sahib for cremation or burn them near the River Rabi after obtaining permission from the city district government.
In 1976, the Evacuee Property Trust allotted a piece of land on Bund Road in Lahore for a shamshan ghat but it was a disputed property and Hindus could not build a cremation place. Later, in May 1999, the Board of Revenue allotted 10 kanals (about 4000 sq. mts.) of land on Bund Road near Saggian Bridge for a shamshan ghat but the plot had not been handed over to the Hindu community.
Such is the plight of minorities in Pakistan where they cannot find even a small piece of land for cremating their dead.