RAWALPINDI: A very old Persian proverb goes as ‘murda badast zinda’ means that once a person is dead it is up to the living ones how they treat the body. The relatives of the deceased person can somehow arrange pulaos, kebabs, mutanjinand zarda for qul or chehlum rituals, but the real litmus test lies in acquiring a decent piece of land to bury the loved one. For city dwellers, this test is not easy to get through. There are over 100 big and small graveyards in the city. Almost all of them are full to their capacity. It is becoming difficult, with the each passing day, to arrange a decent grave for your loved ones.“We discourage people to construct ‘pakkiqabar’. The space for new graves in this graveyard is shrinking day by day. Two or in some cases three ‘kachi’ graves can be dug on the land used to dig a ‘pakki’ grave,” says Shafaaqat, the official grave digger of Dhok Elahi Bakhsh graveyard, one of the biggest in the city. Shafaaqat, whose forefathers were also associated with the same profession, said that all the graveyards in the city are without any official supervision. “The land for a graveyard is either endowed by an influential and wealthy person or is allocated by the government. A committee is then formed which undertakes the management of the graveyard thereafter. These committees usually remain short of funds and without local government’s patronage,” he opines.Shafaaqat is right. Go to any city graveyard and you will witness meters’ high weed bushes in them. “Blessed are the dead whose relatives visit their last abodes regularly. They spend money to get the grave of their loved ones clean and tidy.” There are some of the graveyards built on ancestral land and used primarily to bury the dead of a particular family. One of them is scattered around the shrine of Shah Jehan Badshah Mushahidi, located at Committee Chowk on Benazir Bhutto Road (Murree Road) and built around 450 years ago.“This is our ancestral land. But we allow others to bury their dead also. Now the graveyard is full to its capacity. No more graves. But even then the nearby people come to us and say that other relatives of the dead are also buried in this graveyard. So the grave diggers somehow arrange a small grave for them. We cannot refuse the people because our family is living with them for hundreds of years,” says one of the relatives of current ‘gaddinasheen’ of the saint’s tomb. In big graveyards, the small walking tracks are now being used to create space for the new graves. One can now find only main walking tracks. Sometimes it becomes difficult to offer ‘fateha’ at a grave located at a far away corner of the graveyards.“People have to be buried. Can we say no to a dead? Besides the general ones, many unclaimed corpses are also brought here by the police for burial. It is our faith that a Muslim should be buried properly. We cannot refuse any one,” says Shafaaqat. Same is the case with other big graveyards. PirWadhai graveyard is also full. “There is still some space for burial. But this is shrinking with the each passing day. Soon it will be over,” says a caretaker of the graveyard.Some graveyards are built by various ‘biradaries’ or people associated with same clan like Mughal Qabristan near Holy Family Hospital or Piracha Qabristan in Dhoke Paracha or Arain Qabristan. Usually they don’t allow ordinary people to bury their dead in their graveyards but in some cases they do.The business of grave diggers like that of Shafaaqat is a murky one. People complain that the graves which are never visited are being used to bury the fresh ones. But the grave diggers while talking to Daily Times denied the claims. “No such practice is done here,” says one. But the bread and butter of these diggers is associated with the business of digging graves. They are compelled to produce the space for a new dead. If not, from where they would eat.When contacted, an official of the DCO office said that the government has approved establishment of two new graveyards. He said the proposed sites are Dhok Munshi and Rakh Dhamial locality on Adiala Road. He said a shuttle service will also be provided to dwellers to transport their dead to these graveyards. However, the official was unable to give exact details about land and date of completion of these proposed graveyards.