KORAPUT: People often skip even happy events like a wedding or a birthday celebration citing a busy schedule, but Daya Barik makes it a point to attend every funeral he gets a call for, day or night. And, for those who need it, he even offers a free hearse service to carry the dead to the cremation ground.
The 58 year-old from Gunupur in Rayagada district is ready to leave with his hearse van at a moment's notice any time he gets a call on his mobile phone.
"I don't charge anything for carrying the body to the funeral. It's a free service," says Barik, who owns a small construction material supply business.
It began three years ago. Barik says he was shaken by the sight of a bereaved family pleading with a hearse owner who demanded an exorbitant price for carrying the body. "It was then that I decided to lessen the burden of the bereaved family and started the service free of cost," he adds.
"The cremation ground is at a distance of around five kilometres from the town and hearse owners charged heavily to carry a dead body. With no other option, people used to shell out the demanded price," says Daya.
Initially, it was difficult for Daya to arrange a vehicle to be used as a hearse. Then came another Samaritan, a man who worked in Dubai, who saw the noble service Barik was doing and donated Rs 50,000. With some more donations from people like him, Daya started his own hearse service on October 2, 2016. After that there was no looking back.
"I purchased an old vehicle from Puri and named it 'Swarg Rath'. Till now, I have carried at least 318 bodies in the vehicle driving it myself. In the past three years, never ever have I missed a single call. There were instances when in a single day I attended three to four funerals," says Daya.
Daya's hearse service is not restricted to Gunupur alone. People from neighbouring Gudari, Ramanaguda and Padmapur blocks also call him at their time of need. "With donations from few people now I have purchased another vehicle which is used for carrying outstation bodies," says Daya.
Daya's noble work has made people coming forward with donations for maintenance of the vehicle.
"What we are donating is nothing to the work done by Daya. Still, we contribute something so that he never faces problem in his noble work," says Srinivas Khadanga, a local contractor, one of the donors.