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The mortal remains of a Muslim man had to be buried in a Hindu shamshan ghat or cremation ground after caretakers of at least five Muslim graveyards allegedly denied him a place for burial over fear that he could have died of Covid-19.

Some Hindu residents of the area came forward to help the relatives of Mohammed Khawja Mian (55) and helped bury him in a shamshan ghat at Gandmguda on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The incident came to light after five days.

Khawja died of cardiac arrest at his residence on May 22 and his relatives approached at least five graveyards in the city for the burial.

Mutawallis or caretakers of the graveyards refused to allow the burial citing him to be a non-local or expressing apprehension that he could have died of coronavirus.

"We had to run from one graveyard to the other to seek the place for burial but we received the same response," said Khawja Mian''s son Mohammed Basha.

The incident sparked outrage with demands from different quarters to take action against the caretakers of the graveyards.

In a separate incident, a caretaker of a graveyard at Mallapur refused to allow burial of another person on the ground the deceased was non-local.

The relatives of the deceased Saleemuddin Siddiqui approached Muslim leaders of Congress party, who arranged the burial in a Muslim graveyard in another area.

Taking serious note of the incidents, Telangana State Waqf Board has threatened criminal action against managing committees and caretakers of graveyards if they refuse to allow burial of Muslim bodies on any ground.

Telangana Waqf Board chairman Mohammed Saleem sent teams to the graveyards which denied burial place to deceased Muslims.

Voicing his anger over the incident in which a Muslim had to be buried in shamshan ghat, he made it clear that managing committees or caretakers of graveyards can''t deny place for burial even if the man died of Covid-19 or was a non-local or a traveler.

"Graveyards are not the personal property of managing committees or custodians. They are mere caretakers. Demanding money for the burial or denying the place for burial will not be tolerated," he said.

Saleem felt that the incident had maligned the city. There have been many incidents over the last two months during which graveyards were reluctant to allow burial over doubts that they could have died of Covid-19.

He said the caretakers can''t deny the burial of any Muslim irrespective of the area he comes from and the disease he had.

Saleem said it was unfortunate that caretakers of graveyards were denying burial over extraneous considerations.

"When Saudi Arabia allows burial of all Muslims in the holy places irrespective of their nationalities, there is no reason why Muslim graveyards in India deny resting place to Muslims irrespective of their place of birth, social or economic status," he said.

Saleem called a meeting of the Waqf Board on June 6. A resolution will be passed in this meeting for taking action against committees and custodians demanding money for burial and resorting to other unfair practices.

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Free Press Journal