Arshad Afzaal Khan
AYODHYA: Mohammad Shareef, the “last rites samaritan”, who has given honour in death to over 25,000 people when their bodies lay unclaimed, finally received his Padma Shri award on Monday at
The 83-year-old had been conferred the award in 2020, but the award ceremony was postponed due to coronavirus pandemic.
Shareef, popularly known as Shareef Chacha, was a bicycle mechanic.
His eldest son Raees was murdered in 1992 on way to Sultanpur, a neighbouring district of Ayodhya (then Faizabad).
With his unclaimed body lying on the road, it was devoured by stray animals.
After this incident, Shareef started performing the last rites of the unidentified bodies.
He used to visit police stations, hospitals, railway stations and mortuary in search of unclaimed bodies.
The bodies are handed over to him by police only after nobody claims it for 72 hours.
For his selfless service, he was conferred with India’s fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri in 2020.
Talking to TOI, Shareef’s son Shabbeer said, “We received a call from the ministry of home a day back. They called us to Delhi and arranged air tickets for three persons. In Delhi, we stayed at Ashoka Hotel and on Monday evening my father was conferred Padma Shri by President Ram Nath Kovind.