Home Bangladesh How peaceful the eternal state of city graveyards
Bangladesh - March 13, 2024

How peaceful the eternal state of city graveyards

Staff Correspondent : Emdadul Haque, a resident of Old Dhaka, died on the night of March 9. The next morning, the relatives brought the body to the Azimpur graveyard. As informed, the work of digging the grave started earlier.
After bringing the dead body, the registration fee of city corporation for burial is Tk 1000. Then Tk708 for the bamboo and mat for the grave.
Then a syndicate of graveyards started a kind of business by burying dead bodies. The relatives of Emdadul Haque, who fell under their control, spent about Tk4,500 to bury him.
Where to bury – in a good place in the front or inside, these are also negotiated. Although this is not the end! After the burial, another chapter of trade began in the name of grave care. For this, a large amount of bakshish (gift) money is collected from the relatives every month.
While burying Emdadul Haque in Azimpur cemetery, his nephew Niloy Ahmed narrated the experience of falling into such irony.
He said, it is surprising to think that people can trade in the cemetery with the burial of dead bodies! It is totally inhumane. When a grave is renewed, the attendants come and surround it. They collect money from relatives every month in the name of taking care of that grave. In this way, from burial to burial, people here trade step by step.
About two crore people live in Dhaka. There are 9 designated graveyards under the two city corporations of this large number of people. Among them, there are three in Dhaka South City Corporation area and six in Dhaka North City Corporation area. However, there is no opportunity to increase space in these cemeteries.
In addition, due to lack of space, the preservation of graves is also limited. A permanent place is not available to preserve graves. Relatives should be buried in designated common places. Graves can be preserved for different periods with fixed charges. However, not everyone gets this opportunity due to insufficient space. A typical grave lasts 18 to 20 months. Then someone new was buried there.
How trade in cemeteries going on
If someone dies somewhere in the capital, the relatives have to inform the cemetery in advance where they want to bury him. After that, the work of digging graves began. If you want to bury in a good place, you have to pay extra money. Otherwise, they are buried in the same place in the interior.
Each graveyard in the capital is under the jurisdiction of two city corporations. The city corporation only takes the registration fee for the burial here. Each cemetery is leased to a third party for the rest of the work. After a dead body arrives at the cemetery, Dhaka South City Corporation has to pay Tk 1000 and North City Corporation has to pay Tk 500 as registration fee. The trade of dishonest people started from then. Depending on where the grave is located, the first stage of trading begins.
Abdul Wadud, a resident of Bakshibazar area of the capital, buried his father’s body in Azimpur graveyard. He told that after my father died 8 months ago, I buried him in Azimpur graveyard. Since then, I have understood how the grave trade is here. First come and pay Tk 2000 including registration fee. Then they demanded additional few thousands of taka saying that the cemetery will be given to a better place. If we don’t agree to that, he charges Tk 5 thousand from me only for digging the grave, bamboo mat, burial. However, according to the City Corporation, the maximum should be Tk 1800. Since the body is in front, we did not bargain anymore. They take it as an opportunity, take hostages and collect money from their relatives.
“Also, with the assurance that they will maintain the grave, they ask for Tk 1,000 or Tk 2,000 every month. If not, the grave becomes unclean. There are many outsiders here who are trading in the name of grave maintenance.’
Azimpur cemetery assistant lineman Abdullah Al Mamun denied these allegations. He said, we do not do any business with graves. We accept the fees prescribed by the City Corporation. We take the cost of grave digging, bamboo, mat. We decide which line will be the new grave. But if the relatives who come to bury them give bribes to those who dig graves, then we have no say in that. If the relatives of the deceased are happy and give money to the workers, it is no longer a trade.
Saidur Rahman, the assistant social welfare officer in charge of Dhaka South City Corporation, said that our fixed fee for common graves is Tk 1,000. Apart from this, the cost of Khabar Khondi and bamboo mats has also been determined. We don’t charge anything beyond that. Besides, graves can be preserved for different years with specific charges. However, not everyone can take this opportunity because there is not enough space.
Relatives held hostage
Mokidur Rahman, a resident of Dhanmondi, buried his mother in Azimpur graveyard 8 months ago. At that time, he arranged for his mother’s grave a little ahead of the designated place with an additional Tk 6,000. He came to visit his mother’s grave.
Mokidur Rahman said, when I went to the graves in the cemetery again after the burial, two people came and told me that we take care of all the graves in this row. Planting grass, watering, cleaning graves-each line is attended by different people. They say, if I happily give money every month, they will take care of my mother’s grave. I also agree. Now every month they are demanding one and a half to two thousand rupees. And if the payment is delayed, he calls again, asking for money from Vikas. Sometimes to weaken me, a new grave will sit on your mother’s grave. We will keep the money as long as we can keep it.
Based on Mokidur Rahman’s complaint, Azimpur cemetery caretaker Halim Ahmed was spoken to. He said, we do not force money from any people. Keep what they are happy to give. But we don’t do anything else for a living, our job is to clean graves. Our forefathers have done the same. We share the number of graves in the cemetery. Each takes separate lines to attend to the grave. We kindly request the sons, daughters, brothers of those who come to bury. We will take care of your relative’s grave every day, plant grass, give water, keep it clean. Then they happily give bakshish every month. This is our income.
Enayet Hossain, assistant social welfare officer in charge of Dhaka North City Corporation’s cemetery, said citizens can bury themselves in the graves under Dhaka North City Corporation by paying the prescribed fee. At the end of the specified time, the grave is re-buried. Due to lack of space, we request everyone not to preserve graves.
Grave sitting on grave
As there is a shortage of graveyard space in the capital compared to the number of people living there, new graves are placed on one grave from time to time. In this way, graves are regularly placed on graves.
Mofazzal Hossain has come to visit his father’s grave at the capital’s Banani cemetery. He said, after my father died three years ago, I buried him in Banani graveyard. The grave was there for about a year and a half since then. Then another person’s grave is placed on that grave. Although my father’s name is also written on a small signboard next to the new name. Even then, I come to the grave, visit and pray. I think that my father’s grave is here. In the name of a small name plate and care, the attendants here take two thousand rupees from me every month.
Grave preservation at high cost
However, the two city corporations of Dhaka are discouraging the conservation of graves due to lack of space. Yet by paying a high price one can preserve the graves of their relatives for a certain period of time.
Graveyards under Dhaka South City Corporation have limited opportunities to preserve graves for a period of 10, 15, 20 or 25 years. In that case, you have to count from Tk 5, Tk 10, Tk15 and Tk20 lakhs to Tk45 lakhs respectively.
On the other hand, reservation of advance graves is stopped in six cemeteries under Dhaka North City Corporation. However, subject to the approval of the authorities and the availability of space, these cemeteries have limited arrangements for preserving graves for different periods. Besides, Dhaka North City Corporation has increased the fee for grave preservation last year to discourage grave preservation.
Uttara and Banani graveyards under DNCC used to charge Tk 24 lakh for 15 years and Tk 45 lakh for 25 years. As per the new policy, Banani cemetery will cost Tk 1 crore for 15 years and Tk1.5 crore for 25 years.
Similarly, in Uttara Sector No. 4 Cemetery, Tk 75 lakhs for 15 years and Tk 1 crore for 25 years, in Uttara Sector No. 12 Cemetery, Tk 50 lakhs for 15 years and Tk 75 lakhs for 25 years, in Uttara Sector No. 14 Cemetery, Tk 30 lakhs for 15 years and Tk 25 lakh. A maintenance fee of Tk 50 lakh has been fixed for the year.
Fees have been fixed at Tk 20 lakhs for 15 years and Tk 30 lakhs for 25 years at Mirpur Martyr Intellectual Cemetery, Tk 10 lakhs for 15 years and Tk 15 lakhs for 25 years at the cemetery adjacent to Rayerbazar Memorial.
Relatives engaged in trade
Rafiqul Islam, a resident of Hazaribagh, recently buried his elder brother in the capital’s Azimpur cemetery. About the mismanagement and trade of the cemetery, he said, while burying my elder brother, about Tk 6 thousand were spent in the Azimpur cemetery. However, according to the calculations of the city corporation, the maximum cost is Tk1800. Earlier this money was not needed. The business of keeping dead bodies at the same time as burying dead people is nothing but social degradation.
He also said that the city corporation is the caretaker of the cemetery no matter how much the lease is given. The city corporation should take action on all such trade, mismanagement that is going on in the workplace.
Israt Jahan, a resident of Gulshan, made a similar complaint when she came to visit her mother’s grave at the capital’s Banani graveyard. He said, mother died today 6 months. Extra money has been spent to bury here. In addition, every month money still has to be paid. There is a class of people in the cemetery who hold the grave dwellers’ relatives hostage in the name of grave maintenance.
He said, they threatened to put another grave on your mother’s grave, give us money, I am arranging the burial. Besides, they forcefully take money every month in the name of keeping the graves clean and taking care of them. They are not people of City Corporation, but they have syndicated inside. Since mother’s grave is a sentimental matter, they are forced to pay money every month. If they are late in any month, they call, take money from Vikas.
Thinking about a new workplace
Meanwhile, the Capital Development Authority’s Detailed Area Plan (DAP) has come up with the issue of taking up a new cemetery initiative. In that case, a new cemetery will be built in the capital.
In this regard, DAP director Ashraful Islam said, we have identified some places for graveyards in DAP. However, most of the marked areas are privately owned. In the city corporation area covered by DAP, the surrounding low-lying areas can be filled up and made into graveyards by acquisition. In that case, since the land is privately owned, we will allocate it for the cemetery through acquisition.
In this regard, urban planner and professor of urban and regional planning department of Jahangirnagar University, Adil Muhammad Khan told that there is actually a shortage of grave sites in the capital. However, in the new wards under the City Corporation, this crisis will be reduced to a certain extent if space is reserved for cemeteries in specific places during the development work.

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