Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh praised a woman police personnel for performing the last rites of four deceased persons, whose bodies were unclaimed bodies during the COVID-19 lockdown in Mumbai.
Taking to Twitter on Thursday night, the minister said police naik Sandhya Sheelvant had performed the last rites of four deceased persons in one day and her dedication to her duty was admirable.
While some of the deceased were destitutes, one of them had tested positive for COVID-19 and his relatives could not claim the body.
Sheelvant, who is attached to the Shahu Nagar police station in central Mumbai, is responsible for registration of cases of accidental deaths in the area and has to collect unclaimed bodies, send them for post-mortem, trace kin of the deceased and dispose of bodies that remain unclaimed.
In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown, bodies of destitutes were left unclaimed and kin of some COVID-19 patients were scared of contracting the infection, Sheelvant said.
"It is my duty to dispose of unclaimed bodies and I am not scared of them. I collect blood samples of the deceased and even transport their viscera to forensic labs to ascertain the cause of deaths," she said.
Mortuaries were stretched to their limits because of the pandemic and many don't have space to store bodies, which then have to be disposed of at the earliest, she said.
"Since the lockdown, we have performed last rites of six deceased persons, whose bodies were unclaimed," said Sheelvant, adding that social responsibility trumps fear in these testing times.
Incidentally, Shahu Nagar police station lost one of its young police officers to COVID-19, but it has not deterred Sheelvant from performing her duty.
A mother two, Sheelvant says working in these conditions would not have been possible without the support of her husband and in-laws.
"I am able to do my best at work because of the support of my family and my seniors at the police station," she said.