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Posted at: May 21, 2019, 6:38 PM; last updated: May 22, 2019, 6:59 AM (IST)

Telangana’s Sikh mayor moots scheme offering funeral services at Re 1

Telangana’s Sikh mayor moots scheme offering funeral services at Re 1
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao (left) and Karimnagar mayor Ravinder Singh. Photo source: Facebook

Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service
Hyderabad, May 21

At first glance, he looks like any Sikh on a visit to Telangana, but his chaste Telugu takes non-locals by surprise.

Ravinder Singh was born and raised in Andhra Pradesh, and is now mayor of Karimnagar. Following the life of a staunch Sikh, he chose to join the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to find avenues to follow the ‘rehat maryada” as preached by the Sikh Gurus. A close confidante of Chief Minister K Chandra Shekhar Rao (KCR), he is in the news once again—this time for launching a scheme that would provide funeral facilities for the poor at a token cost of Rs 1. 

 “This would help the poor and those from the middle classes bid the final adieu with respect and dignity,” he says.

The Karimnagar Municipal Corporation (KMC) will not question anyone who approaches it for help, he says.

A very friendly face, he is often seen across the state at most TRS conventions and rallies, dressed in a white safari suit, red turban with a pink TRS insignia scarf around him he say his mission is to serve the people according to the “teachings of the gurus”.

He says: “Many people are unable to give their departed family members with a decent farewell due to high cost involved”. The funeral will include providing flowers, garlands, firewood, sandalwood pieces, kerosene, ghee, and new clothes for the person performing the funeral and kerosene.

Citing Guru Gobind Singh shabad “manas ki jat sabhe eke paihcanbo” that recognises all of mankind as a single caste of humanity, Ravinder Singh said that even for people who do not cremate, but bury their dead, the KMC will help follow the religious practice as per their traditions. The KMC will arrange two vehicles to carry the deceased in procession for their last journey. They too will be charged a mere Rs 1 for the assistance.

Ravinder Singh has been donating money from his pocket for the funeral of the poor for the last ten years. He has also been actively involved in performing marriages of couples from poor families. The last rites he says could cost as much as a wedding, especially for Hindus because of elaborate rituals. So, he has used his position in the KMC to earmark a budget of Rs 1.1 crore for the purpose.

This scheme being termed as “Antim Yatra” or “Aakhri Safar” (final procession) will be formally launched on June 15.

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