Mass burials provoke grieving families

Unaffordability of newly built cemeteries has facilitated the covert burial of multiple bodies in a single grave

Muhammad Ilyas June 07, 2024


The grave of a deceased loved one holds immense sentimental value for the grieving family, who customarily make occasional trips to the site of burial for paying their respects however, when mass burials start assuming normalcy in populated areas like Lahore, multiple families have to contend to lay their claims on a single grave.

With Lahore's population reaching 1.3 million, urban cemeteries have started running out of space for accommodating more burials as a result of which new graves are being built on top of many old, abandoned ones. Even though, the local government has provided burial space in several newly built cemeteries, the high costs of burial and difficulty in accessing these burial areas have allowed many locals to conveniently bury their deceased in an already occupied grave, thereby provoking the initial claimants.

For instance, Kashif Mehmood, a resident of the Garhi Shahu area, experienced a similar encounter at the cemetery near his house, where all his relatives are buried. “One day, when I unexpectedly visited the cemetery, I discovered that there was someone else's grave at my maternal uncle's burial site. When I complained to the cemetery administration, a heated argument broke out with the new claimants. However, shortly after, our area's locals intervened and resolved the dispute by allocating two separate tombstones for both the deceased at the same spot,” shared Mehmood.

On the other hand, Naeem Amir, a resident of Cantt, who buried his brother-in-law in an already occupied grave felt that it was all a matter of finances. "Recently, my brother-in-law passed away, and we were asked to pay a price of Rs40,000 to Rs50,000 for a grave in the Cantt cemetery. However, after being advised by a gravedigger, we decided to bury our brother-in-law in our elder's grave, which was 50 years old. Burying a loved one in an occupied grave costs 50 to 60 per cent less,” shrugged Amir.

"The cemetery management allows new graves to be built on top of old, abandoned ones, either out of greed or when they are sure that the family of the deceased do not visit the grave for reciting Fatiha. Since cemeteries have run out of space, families use mass burials to fulfil their wish of burying all their loved ones at a single cemetery,” revealed a gravedigger at the Miani Sahib Cemetery.

Seconding the gravedigger, the in-charge of another local cemetery revealed that apart from Miani Sahib other cemeteries like Buddhu's Tomb, Cantt Cemetery, and Johar Town Samsani Cemetery had also reached their maximum capacity. “Records are not available on the exact number of burials, but graves are being stacked on top of each other,” said the official, who further revealed that Buddhu's Tomb, which had a capacity of 2,000 graves, is now overcrowded with thousands of more graves.

Concurrently, Lahore's oldest and largest cemetery, Miani Sahib, which spans a total area of 1206 kanals, and has a capacity of approximately 300,000 graves, too has exceeded its limit. Similarly, the Mominpura cemetery, designed to accommodate 10,000 graves, has also surpassed its capacity, with new graves built on top of the old ones.

According to sources of the Express Tribune, a total of 849 small and big cemeteries exists in the provincial capital out of which cemeteries like Buddhu's Tomb, Gulberg, Dharmapura, Mughalpura, Harbanspura, Madho Lal Hussain, Baghbanpura, Droghawala, Muslim Town, Nabipura, Sanda Road, Ichhra, and Garhi Shahu all have exceeded their capacity. Furthermore, the Christian community's major cemeteries, including Gora Cemetery, Taxali, Jail Road, Dharmapura, and Nishat Colony, also face a similar situation.

“Model cemeteries like those at Shehr-e-Khamoshan, Raiwind Road, Kahna Nau, Ahlu Tehsil Kina and Model Graveyard Dilha Kala Tehsil Cantt exist yet people are still opting for older cemeteries and are neglecting these modern facilities,” commented Deputy Commissioner Lahore, Rafi Haider.



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