26 September, 2020

Bunkmates In God’s Acre

A shortage of cemetery space forces Mumbai’s deceased to room together

Amit Haralkar
Bunkmates In God’s Acre

If you want to commune with the who’s-who list of former Bollywood legends, head over to the Juhu Muslim cemetery. Madhubala, Parveen Babi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Talat Mehmood, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Ifteqar, Naushad and Mohammed Rafi, all found a final resting place here. But for Asgar Ali Suleiman, president of the Muslim Majlis Trust that manages the graveyard, this celebrity burial ground has become a problem. Due to lack of space, he has had to re-use many of these graves in the last two years. So when star death anniversaries come up, angry fans accuse Suleiman of tampering with their graves. Many of the elaborate headstones have given way to saplings planted over grave mounds. “What can I do? There is just no space,” sighs Suleiman. The modest one-acre graveyard that opened in 1959 has 500 grave plots. The non-celebrity graves have as many as 20-25 bodies buried, in tiers. Moreover, the cemetery has been “renewed” four times by dumping a new soil layer over the existing grave plots to accommodate new burials. As a...



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