WHILE Indian customs warrant a decent funeral for the deceased, records in the country’s morgues indicate many of the unclaimed bodies belonged to the Indians.
Other than the bodies of the destitute and those who cannot be identified, it is also a sad reality that many of the next-of-kin are reluctant to claim the bodies of those murdered, died of suicide or accidents.
Some of the unclaimed bodies also involve Indian nationals, who did not have sufficient personal identification or there was difficulty in contacting their families in their country of origin.
Their reasons not to claim the bodies are many, from shame, family conflicts and even the next-of-kin not being able to afford a proper funeral service.
However, there is a saviour for forlorn bodies lying in the morgues in Selangor awaiting for their final rites. A non-governmental organisation Persatuan Kebajikan Khairat Pengebumian Kaum India Selangor (KHAIS) now gives a decent burial for the unclaimed corpses. KHAIS chairman D.Dhatchinamoorthy said non-Muslim bodies which were unclaimed at the hospital mortuary for weeks or months need to be managed immediately.
KHAIS believes in taking care of these unclaimed corpses is important in optimising the management costs borne by the hospitals and reducing congestion at the morgues.
“Realising this, we formed KHAIS almost four months ago for the management of unclaimed Indian corpses.
“Every process, from claiming the body until the funeral, will be carried out by us with help from public contributions given to the NGO,” he told Bernama in an exclusive interview in Klang recently. According to MyHEALTH, a health portal created by the Health Ministry for the public, any body unclaimed three days after it was received would be classified as unclaimed.
Muslim corpses will be stored in the mortuary for at least three days until an answer is obtained after efforts to track down the next of kin.
Non-Muslim bodies will be kept for at least 14 days until a next of kin is located.
Should no one claim the body within the period of time, a copy of the burial permit and approval to handle the body will be obtained from an investigating police officer or magistrate. Dhatchinamoorthy said at least three days were needed for the funeral rites starting with the paperwork.
“At the moment KHAIS is only helping the hospitals manage with unclaimed bodies through burial, not cremation, for legal reasons that may require the body to be exhumed later,” he said.
KHAIS is the first NGO established in Malaysia with the purpose of managing unclaimed bodies. It has 20 volunteers and works with 11 government hospitals in Selangor including Banting and Klang where Indians predominate. Dhatchinamoorthy said besides managing unclaimed bodies, KHAIS also manages body parts that were not claimed by its owner or family members.
He said there were body parts of non-Muslim patients such amputated limbs due to diabetes, which were left at hospital morgues without being claimed.
He provided an example where many body parts that were severed in accidents or amputated due to diabetes were left unclaimed at the Sungai Buloh Hospital.
As their first attempt, he said KHAIS disposed almost 30 body parts at the Sungai Buloh Hindu Cemetery, while 30 others were pending due to financial constraints. Meanwhile, KHAIS urged the government to take this problem seriously and to provide a special allocation to manage bodies from fatal accidents or murders which have been kept in morgues for too long.
Dhatchinamoorthy said this is because final rites should be done quickly and the association spends almost RM2,000 for each case it handles.
“KHAIS is doing a noble job by disposing the unclaimed bodies and body parts in thr righful manner, therefore we want the government to show come concern by allocating some funds for this effort,” he added.
Members of the public who would like to contribute could do so through Bank Simpanan Nasional account 10104-41-00010411-1. For further information, visit KHAIS’ Facebook page Khairat Pengebumian India Selangor, or contact Dhatchinamoorthy at 0177646933/0126700762.