Karachi Graveyards — Are Departed Souls Resting in Peace?

When someone dies, we say ‘Rest in Peace’. But the condition of graveyards in one of the major cities, Karachi, is alarming. The graveyards in this city don’t look like a resting place at all.

Since 1998, 1.3 million people have died in Karachi, but the available burial plots are only half of that figure. This clearly shows that the graves have been reused.

  • There are almost 218 graveyards in Karachi.
  • Each graveyard has 2500-3000 graves.

Gora Qabristan

One of the oldest graveyards of Karachi is “Gora Qabristan.” It’s been noticed that some graves seem to be on a higher plain than others. Many graveyards have been closed by the government, however, the place is still being used. There are still funeral processions seen in the oldest graveyards of Karachi, even though they’ve been declared closed for years now. More than 300,000 bodies are buried in Gora Qabristan, however, the space is for only 3,000 graves. This shows that at least 10 bodies are buried in one grave.

Mewa Shah — it is another graveyard that has been officially closed by the government.  

Qayuumabad Graveyard

There is a visible shortage of space at Qayuumabad graveyard. Karachi Development Authority has planned multiple developments but it didn’t focus on the graveyards in the past few years. Even the most astonishing housing society, Bahria Town, is also planning to construct 5,000 to 10,000 houses, though it also doesn’t pay attention to the graveyards of Karachi.

It’s been reported that many eerie and bizarre crimes are taking place in the Qayuumabad graveyard. People are performing ‘black magic’ there, they come to the graveyard with voodoo dolls and pots and when someone comes to pay respect to their loved ones, their phones and wallets get stolen. It seems like the government isn’t doing anything to make things better in Karachi.  

Everyone knows what happened when the heatwave struck Karachi in 2015. 965 people died and there was no place available for burying the bodies. A famous Karachi-based urban architect, Arif Hasan said, almost 30,000 new graves are required every year, which means, around 375-acre land is needed per year.

What does KMC have to say about it?

According to KMC:

“Out of the 218 graveyards within Karachi, only 48 are regularly registered with us. From the remaining, some are under the control of the army and navy, and most are run by their respective surrounding communities.”

Other graveyards that run without the government and are managed by the communities are comparatively better managed than the ones that are run by the government — since they charge reasonable burial rates as well. Founder of Saiban (Action Research for Shelter), Tasneem A. Siddiqui said, the reservation system for graves needs to stop! People are buying 10 graves at a time for future, which is causing problems for other families.

According to the KMC graveyard directors, there is a need of well-managed system in Karachi. Many graveyards need repairing as the boundary walls are broken and the entrance gates are badly tarnished. The shortage of graveyards is nothing new to Karachi; other major cities are also facing the same problem. It’s observed, the condition of graveyards in Karachi is very poor. Garbage can be seen everywhere, broken walls and broken tombstones give an eerie feeling, which makes it even more hard for people to even stand near the grave of the loved ones.

Recycling Graves

The rates for burial plots depend on the location where the graveyard is situated. An investigation shows that if a client gets ready to pay a hefty amount of money, the dead can be buried in any graveyard, even if the government has closed or banned the graveyard. The “gorkans” build new graves over the old ones that haven’t been visited for a long time.

The same problem is being faced by the most cramped cities as well including London, Sidney, and Mumbai. These major cities are also considering to recycle the graves by burying the remains from the older graves — deeper into the same grave so that space can be utilized for the new body on the top. Reuse of burial space is becoming the norm but at the same time, it is a sensitive issue as many accuse this practice as a violation of religion — although, it is an effectual and maintainable way for the cities, all around the world.


3 Comments

  • Abdullah Imran

    May 17, 2018 AT 10:42 AM

    the same alarming situation prevails here in the largest graveyard of Lahore, Miani Sahab. as reported that the graveyard is also facing an acute shortage of space for new burials.

    Faisal Chaudhary

    May 22, 2018 AT 10:51 AM

    agree, forget big cities and wonder what about the small ones?

    Vinay Wani

    May 23, 2018 AT 10:39 AM

    horrible.

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