Hyderabad: “Cremation of a destitute dead body does not amount to insulting any religious feelings,” commented a Telangana High Court judge while pronouncing a judgment. HC made the statement while dropping criminal charges against Dr K Rajeshwar Rao, the founder of Satya Harischandra Foundation, for cremating a Muslim destitute.

Established in 2004, members of Hyderabad-based Satya Harischandra are engaged in tracing unidentified dead bodies, patients, and missing cases. They also shelter the destitute and bury the dead with all due respect. The foundation also ran an old age home — Destitute Welfare Centre — all for love for the abandoned.

However, in 2017, the foundation ran into troubled waters. Afzal Gunj police booked Dr Rajeshwar Rao for cremating a destitute who was later identified as a Muslim. The case followed a complaint filed by a group of people who cited “insult to religious sentiments” as the basis of the issue.

The facts of the case are that on March 28, 2019, a woman, Sardar Bee, was discharged from Osmania General Hospital. The 60-year-old destitute, who was in a semi-unconscious state, was shifted to the Destitute Welfare Centre. Three days later, the lady passed away due to medical complications. She was cremated at Purana Pul in the Old City of Hyderabad.

Days after her cremation, Mohd Ali, who claimed to have admitted Sardar Bee at Osmania Hospital, accused Dr Rajashekar Rao of hurting religious sentiment by cremating a Muslim in a Hindu graveyard. The man filed a complaint with the Afzal Gunj police station, and police registered a case under section 285(A) of IPC against the founder. A court sentenced Dr Rao to imprisonment, but he was released on bail.

Speaking to NewsMeter, Dr Rao said, “Sardar Bee was in a semi-unconscious state, and we were not informed of her religion. Besides, her family remains untraceable. No friend or foe was present when the lady was shifted to the destitute house. As a practice, we cremated her.”

Both parties (referring to the complainant and the accused) knocked on High Court’s doors. After two years of hearing the case, the HC cleared all charges against Dr Rao

Coreena Suares

Coreena Enet Suares is the Editor of NewsMeter. Her stories have been published in the Deccan Chronicle Newspaper and the Asian Age. Coreena began her career as a News Anchor. Throughout her journey, she has been able to build a strong network with people from all walks of life. She is an alumnus of Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists- Research and Investigation, a flagship initiative of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Coreena is also a certified fact-checker by Google India Initiative. She has attended the 'Defence Correspondents Course 2019, through which she visited Indo- Pak border, besides traveling on a War-ship and insight into operations of Fighter aircraft. Coreena's focus areas are anti-crime investigation agencies and Defence reporting. You can follow Coreena on [email protected]

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