COVID Warrior Jitender Singh Shunty Dedicates His Padma Shri Award To Fellow Frontline Workers

COVID Warrior Jitender Singh Shunty Who Cremated Over 4,000 Bodies During The COVID-19 Pandemic Receives Padma Shri 2021

Highlights
  • Mr Shunty received Padma Shri for social work done in the last 25 years
  • Mr Shunty established Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal in 1995 to help people
  • Mr Shunty and his team cremated over 4,000 bodies during the COVID-19

New Delhi: “I believe this award (Padma Shri) is a responsibility and a trust the President of India has bestowed upon us for continuing the social work. I will take it as a challenge”, said Jitender Singh Shunty, Padma Shri Awardee and President, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal. On November 9, Mr Shunty was conferred with the Padma Shri award in the category ‘social work’ for his relentless service to poor people for 25 years now and contribution during COVID-19 by running ambulances to ferry and cremate bodies. In an interview with NDTV post receiving the prestigious award, Mr Shunty said,

I am not the sole bearer of this award. I dedicate it to all my COVID warriors – ambulance drivers and people working on the ground with me in the cremation ground and assisting in transporting patients and carrying bodies.

Also Read: Meet The Man Who Cremated Over 4,000 Bodies During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Recounting his journey, Mr Shunty shared that he was born in a poor family and lost his father at an early age. As a child, he witnessed multiple hardships and did odd jobs to make ends meet. It is in 1995, after Mr Shunty’s business picked up some momentum that saw him start his own organisation ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal’. The organisation was established with the objective of saving lives through promoting availability, accessibility and effectiveness of emergency services.

Talking about the idea behind serving people, Mr Shunty said,

I am a follower of Bhagat Singh, who was executed at an age of 23. I belong to a (Sikh) community that believes in ‘sewa’ (service) and since childhood, we have heard, “Deh shiva bar mohe ihai, shubh karman te kabhun na taron, na doron ar syon jab jaye laron, nischay kar apni jeet karon” (O power of Akaal, give me this boon, may I never ever shirk from doing good deeds. That I shall not fear when I go into combat. And with determination I shall be victorious.)

Meet The Man Who Cremated Over 4,000 Bodies During The COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID Warrior Jitender Singh Shunty at a cremation ground

Also Read: Salute The COVID Heroes Who Selflessly Helped India Fight COVID-19

Since the inception of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sewa Dal, Mr Shunty and his team have been taking care of the cremation of unclaimed bodies and those of poor people; providing ambulance service, mortuary box, hearse van. In the last 25 years, the team has cremated over 56,000 bodies.

The team stepped up even during the COVID-19 pandemic and worked for 18 hours at a stretch given the enormity of the task at hand. In the last one and a half years of COVID-19, the team cremated 4,000 dead bodies. Talking about his motivation and the belief that kept him and his team going even when faced with extreme distress and disturbing circumstances, Mr Shunty said,

People used to say that, ‘you will die while serving people. It’s an infectious disease, stay home.’ But our religion says, “muhi marne ka chao hai, maro ta har ke duar” (I long to die; let me die at the Lord’s door.) I thought people are dying even at their homes so why not I continue with my service; I don’t mind dying at the cremation ground.

Also Read: COVID Warrior From Bhopal Converts His Auto-Rickshaw Into Ambulance, Sells Wife’s Jewellery To Help People

To ensure the safety of his team and at the same time, assure that the COVID warriors are at the top of their game, Mr Shunty arranged for courses on first aid and dead body management for his frontline warriors.

Mr Shunty believes the COVID-19 pandemic was an eye-opener for many as it showed the real face of people. Many found a family, a confidant in a stranger. While signing off, Mr Shunty gave the message of preparing for the future and helping one and all. He said,

During the pandemic, in many cases, even the family didn’t come forward to perform the last rites. On contrary, strangers like you and me, came forward only to make us realise that everyone can be a protector. The one sitting on the borders, guarding the country, is not the sole protector. Every civilian is police.

Meet The Man Who Cremated Over 4,000 Bodies During The COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID Warrior Jitender Singh Shunty has been on the frontlines since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

Also Read: Meet 24-Year-Old Asma Khan Who Is Leading The Youth Of Madhya Pradesh To Rise Up To Meet The Challenges of COVID-19 Pandemic

Earlier in September, in an exclusive interview with NDTV, Mr Shunty had shared heart-wrenching stories of the suffering he witnessed firsthand. Recounting one such story, Mr Shunty said,

The incidents that I have witnessed haunt me at night. Once a 20-year-old girl brought her father’s body to me and requested to perform the last rites. She said, “All night I was searching for a hospital but failed to find any and eventually my father took his last breath in the car itself. Now I am struggling to find any space for cremation.”

While working on the frontlines, Mr Shunty and his family tested positive for COVID-19 twice, he lost one of his ambulance drivers and even slept in a car, outside a cremation ground and sometimes in the parking area. But the passion to serve people kept the COVID warrior and his team going.


During the NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India’s 12-hour Swasth Bharat, Sampann Bharat telethon, Mr Shunty talked about the mental and emotional difficulties he faced while being a frontline warrior. He said,

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we cremated 1,366 bodies and ferried over 2,600 patients. One of my drivers, who was associated with me for the last 25 years, died within two days. Seeing this, other drivers obviously go scared but I asked them a simple question, if we are at a war and one of our soldiers is killed, will we step back or continue to fight? They said, we will come down harder to avenge our loss. So I said, in the same way, we also cannot give up the fight against COVID-19 in the face.

While talking about the horrors of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Shunty said,

What I saw in the second wave sends a chill down my spine.


NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

World

25,14,15,878Cases

21,25,42,567Active

3,38,00,925Recovered

50,72,386Deaths

Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 25,14,15,878 and 50,72,386 have died; 21,25,42,567 are active cases and 3,38,00,925 have recovered as on November 11, 2021 at 4:15 am.

India

3,44,01,670 13,091Cases

1,38,5561,127Active

3,38,00,925 13,878Recovered

4,62,189 340Deaths

In India, there are 3,44,01,670 confirmed cases including 4,62,189 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,38,556 and 3,38,00,925 have recovered as on November 11, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details



State

Cases

Active

Recovered

Deaths
Maharashtra

66,20,423 1,094

16,044 899

64,63,932 1,976

1,40,447 17

Kerala

50,34,858 7,540

71,084 560

49,29,153 7,841

34,621 259

Karnataka

29,90,856 328

8,056 72

29,44,669 247

38,131 9

Tamil Nadu

27,11,584 828

10,159 112

26,65,178 931

36,247 9

Andhra Pradesh

20,69,066 348

3,220 13

20,51,440 358

14,406 3

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,236 14

92 7

16,87,240 6

22,904 1

West Bengal

16,00,732 853

7,945 29

15,73,520 809

19,267 15

Delhi

14,40,230 54

388 39

14,14,751 15

25,091

Odisha

10,44,428 387

2,716 66

10,33,344 317

8,368 4

Chhattisgarh

10,06,245 25

223 10

9,92,435 34

13,587 1

Rajasthan

9,54,471 2

44 1

9,45,473 3

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,826 42

215 6

8,16,521 36

10,090

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,924 5

81 7

7,82,319 12

10,524

Haryana

7,71,368 13

118 2

7,61,200 11

10,050

Bihar

7,26,144 6

37 3

7,16,446 3

9,661

Telangana

6,72,987 164

3,746 8

6,65,272 171

3,969 1

Assam

6,13,061 263

3,279 22

6,03,747 284

6,035 1

Punjab

6,02,647 31

242 13

5,85,838 17

16,567 1

Jharkhand

3,48,948 15

150 4

3,43,660 19

5,138

Uttarakhand

3,43,974 8

142 8

3,36,430 16

7,402

Jammu And Kashmir

3,33,490 165

1,230 31

3,27,812 131

4,448 3

Himachal Pradesh

2,25,319 154

1,161 78

2,20,368 71

3,790 5

Goa

1,78,399 32

294 9

1,74,734 22

3,371 1

Puducherry

1,28,302 39

272 5

1,26,167 33

1,863 1

Mizoram

1,26,917 531

5,939 157

1,20,522 371

456 3

Manipur

1,24,250 64

724 17

1,21,586 45

1,940 2

Tripura

84,635 11

134 13

83,685 24

816

Meghalaya

83,942 28

318 1

82,163 28

1,461 1

Chandigarh

65,373 2

22 4

64,531 6

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,202 5

47 3

54,875 2

280

Sikkim

32,074 16

124 2

31,550 14

400

Nagaland

31,960 9

172 8

31,096 14

692 3

Ladakh

21,087 15

129 4

20,749 11

209

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,682

0 0

10,678

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,665

9 0

7,527

129

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