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