This Republic Day, government announced names of 118 people to be conferred with the Padma Shri. Among these names is that of Mohammed Sharif. 

Endearingly called ‘Chacha Sharif’, Faizabad’s Mohammed Sharif is a bicycle mechanic who has silently been providing dignity and respect to the dead by cremating & burying unclaimed bodies for the last 25 years. 

He kickstarted this noble service 28 years ago after he lost his 25-year-old son whose was killed in communal riots over Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi issue in 1992. His body was found decomposed in a sack on the railway track.

“He was my elder son Mohd Raes Khan and he had gone to Sultanpur to work as a chemist but went missing for a month. Later, Raes was found murdered, his decomposed body in a sack. It was then that I decided to not let any unclaimed body lying off the road to be devoured by stray animals. 
CSR Live

He regularly visits police stations, nearby hospitals, railway stations and mortuaries to check for unclaimed bodies. If in 72 hours, a body is not claimed, it is handed over to chacha. He performs last rites according to the faith of the deceased, not neglecting or discriminating against any religion.

Maine yeh soch liya hai ki Faizabad mein mere liye na koi Hindu hai na koi Musalan, sab hai insaan.    
Times Of India

He has performed last rites for over 25,000 unclaimed bodies which include Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Cristians around Faizabad. He has also been featured in Satyamev Jayate that was hosted by actor Aamir Khan. 

Sharif lives in poverty with his wife and his other son. He faces financial difficulties many times, but he uses all of his salary from repairing bicycles and donations he receives to continue with this selfless service.

Along with him, ‘Langar baba’ who has been feeding and treating sick patients since two decades for free and ‘Sunderban ke Sujan’ who travels six hours every weekend to treat patients in remote Sundarban villages have also been awarded Padma Shri for their humanitarian work. 

People like Chacha Sharif and other kind souls teach us the biggest lessons in life, that in the bigger scheme of things–we’re all humans before anything else.