Mourning without mourners: People dying of non-covid reasons too get a quiet send-off

All photos sourced from recent obituaries published in newspapers

Srinagar: A senior Botany lecturer in Pattan, a retired government officer in Safa Kadal, an elderly widow in Soura, spouse of a former MLA, and a renowned paediatrician;  they all passed away earlier this week and they all have something in common: a lonely farewell.

Those dying natural deaths in Kashmir these days are getting a similar goodbye in terms of people attendance and zero gatherings as those dying of coronavirus.

Newspapers (which only publish digital editions) and news portals announce these deaths in which the kin of the deceased implore their relatives not to visit them.

The obituaries carry clear messages: “all near and dear ones are requested to stay back”; “there will be no congregational prayers”; “everybody is requested to kindly pray for the departed soul from their respective homes”.

The surge of coronavirus cases in Kashmir is impacting every sphere of life and death as people ensure minimum gathering even when a family member dies.

Ayesha Begum, 95, of Haran Budgam passed away peacefully on April 6.

Since her husband, Late Ali Mohammad Mir, was once an MLA of the area, the family would have hosted a large gathering on the demise.

But in these extraordinary times, Ayesha’s funeral had only a few dozen attending it, all standing away from each other in order to abide by social distancing norms.

“Only neighbours and some close relative who live in the same village attended the funeral. They left right after and did not visit our home,” Ayesha’s son, Advocate Hafizullah Mir told The Kashmir Monitor.

“We had requested everyone, including our friends from work, NOT to visit our residence in view of Covid-19,” he said.

On April 8, one of the most renowned paediatricians of Kashmir, Dr Amarjeet Singh Sethi passed away.

Dr Sethi was a household name in Kashmir and saying goes that almost everyone born between 80s and 90s has been treated by him.

Professor and Ex Head of Department Children Hospital, Dr Sethi’s demise, in normal times, would have attracted a large gathering going beyond religious and social boundaries.

However, in the times of coronavirus, his family ensured that people prayed for the deceased from their homes.

“Let’s remember him in our prayers from our respective homes and pray to Almighty to grant him the highest place in heaven,” read the obituary message published by Sethis in a newspaper.

A member of the family told The Kashmir Monitor that everyone ensured they offered their condolence through phone or WhatsApp messages.

“We made sure it remained a quiet and small gathering at his ancestral home,” the family member said.

To mention, coronavirus, which has globally devoured over 95000 people with more than 1.5 million infected, is seeing huge daily spikes in Kashmir each day.

Till now 188 people in J&K has tested positive of the virus, over 150 of them are from Kashmir alone.

Three of the four deaths due to it in J&K have happened in Kashmir.  

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About the Author

A journalist by chance with over five years of experience in reporting, editing, and bucketing local, national and international content for my current organization. I have covered education, health, politics, and human rights. I like working for a daily, though I occasionally try my pen in long-form to connect personal narratives with history.

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