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Unknown friend of the dead – Pradeep Kumar Prusty

Meet Pradeep Kumar Prusty – the unknown friend of the dead! He has made it his life's mission to ensure that the dead get a dignified burial. He is always the first to come forward to collect corpses found along the roads, railway track and bodies hanging from trees in outskirts as well as in the city. This school drop-out does not hail from a well-off background , yet 'Service to mankind is service to God' is his motto. An auto-rickshaw driver by profession, he revels in a job that everyone would love to hate – disposing of claimed and unclaimed bodies.

Forty-year-old Prusty is always there for the police to collect the bodies and take them to the mortuary for autopsy and identification. “When I was in school, I used to visit the municipality hospital nearby my school to get digestive tablets as they tasted sweet. I would see the agony of the family members who could not dispose of the bodies of their near and dear due to lack of money. That inspired me to help these poor people", Prusty says. Since he started with this noble job in 2009, he has disposed off around seven hundred bodies .

Everytime any claimed or unclaimed dead body is found, he is called. He arrives at the spot and helps out the police. In order to ensure the dignity of the dead, he provides all possible help to people for performing the last rites and the cremation of their loved ones.

“I earn about Rs.7,000 to Rs.8000 monthly by driving an auto-rickshaw in the city. I spend half of the money for collection and cremation of the bodies and other half for the family", said Prusty, who has a son and a daughter. While his son is studying in Class 8, his daughter is in Class 12. His wife is a homemaker. He collects funds from people to dispose of the corpses, when he falls short of money.

This good Samaritan also started an ambulance service in 2007, prior to State government's free ambulance service. “I sold off my ambulance after it broke down. I had no money to repair it. So, I had no option but to sell it off", he said. He has won many awards and felicitation from numerous organizations because of his social work.

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