Looking for a true Indian patriot, a real ‘desh-bhakt’? Meet Ayub Ahmed, from Mysore (Mysuru) in Karnataka. He is also known as ‘Body Miyan’, and has been voluntarily burying unidentified and unclaimed corpses for the past 19 years.
Shifting unidentified and unclaimed bodies is certainly no enviable work, but to do this as an act of service? 38-year-old Ayub Ahmed, a resident of Mysore, not only shifts such bodies voluntarily to the mortuary, he also takes them to the burial ground and lays them to rest after the police declare them unidentified and unclaimed.
Mr. Ahmed began doing this selfless act about 19 years ago after he came across a body lying on the outskirts of Mysore on Nanjangud road for more than 10 hours. That was the first unclaimed body he buried.
Ayub Ahmed was hardly 10 or 11 years old when he stopped going to school. Instead he would spend his day sitting with beggars outside a mosque near his house.
His father and uncle would often beat him up for skipping school. However, when Ayub told them that the beggars outside the mosque need his help and helping them seemed more important to him than going to school, they realized that Ayub was not an ordinary child.
As Ayub grew up he started working as a porter to help his father. All his earnings, however, would go in helping the poor and downtrodden.
And then came the day Ayub realized his life’s mission. About 18 years ago, when Ayub was still a teenager, he saw a body on the road while travelling in his friend’s car from Mysuru to Gundlupet.
Ayub was upset by looking at the body, but he did not do anything thinking that the deceased’s kin would take care of it.
But while travelling back almost eight hours later, he was shocked to see the body lying at the same location. He then persuaded his friend, picked up the body, put it in the car and took it to a morgue. The police heard about this, praised Ayub and also rewarded him with money.
However, the act which was a matter of pride and satisfaction for Ayub and the policemen, was not well received by his friends and relatives. He was criticized for picking up an unidentified body which, according to his relatives, was the job of a particular community. Scared that even his father wouldn’t support him, Ayub ran away to Bangalore with the money he got from the police.
Ayub started working in a small water purification plant in Bangalore. His boss was so happy with his work that one day, he called Ayub, gave him some money and asked him to explore the city.
The first place Ayub visited was Lal Bagh. Odd as it may sound, Ayub again came across an unidentified body lying in the bushes. His mind went back to years ago, when he had taken the body to a morgue, and of people’s reaction to that.
But his conscience didn’t let him abandon the body, which might have been family to someone.
He picked up the body and handed it over to the Bengaluru police. He was again rewarded for his act. At this point, Ayub realized that he was not doing anything wrong and he came back to Mysore with the determination to carry on with this noble work in his own city.
So Ayub started his work again without any guilt. He had saved Rs.10, 000 from his work stint in Bangalore.
He told the Hindu newspaper recently:
“While I was going to Gundlupet in a KSRTC bus to purchase a car, the driver stopped the vehicle near Bandipalya where a crowd had gathered around a dead body lying on the road. Ten hours later, when I was returning to Mysuru in my new car, the body was still there,” he says.
He transported the corpse in his new car!
A policeman standing near the corpse said he could not find anybody to shift the body to the morgue. “When anybody buys a car, they take their friends or relatives on a drive. But I transported a dead body to the mortuary in mine,” he says.
When he realised the aversion and taboo surrounding the handling of dead bodies and transporting them, Mr. Ahmed began offering his services.
After helping the police as well as the public to shift bodies over the last 19 years, he has lost count of the number. But it has helped him earn not only the respect of the police department in Mysuru and neighbouring Mandya, but also the nickname “Body Miyan”.
Mr. Ahmed says his phone rings soon after the police is alerted about a dead body. By the time the police completes formalities, he reaches the spot and gets down to work. He helps in the toughest of circumstances, such as when a body has to be recovered from water, says Lakshmikant Talwar, Inspector of Mandi police station in Mysuru.
Mr. Ahmed says he does not receive more than ₹50 to ₹150 every time he transports a body. “Even if a body is claimed by relatives, it is very difficult to ask them for payment to transport the body when they are in grief,” he says.
Mr. Talwar endorses Mr. Ahmed and says that he offers to shift the bodies after post-mortem to their native village even free of cost if the relatives are from a poor background.
The last rites of the unclaimed bodies are conducted as per their respective religion.
“When bodies are taken to the burial ground near Jodi Thenginamara road near Highway Circle for the last rites, a Hindu priest assists me. If the body is of a Muslim, it goes to a graveyard near Mandi Mohalla. The bodies of Christians are taken to the cemetery in Ramanahalli,” said Mr. Ahmed.
Now, he has been promised the assistance of the police in securing a vehicle that is suitable for transporting bodies, which will be better than the old car that he uses.