A couple of months back, Shantamma jumped into the heritage Hussain Sagar Lake to fetch a body. The rotten body was not touched by the person’s inconsolable relatives as it smelt real bad. Finally, Shantamma was given Rs 70 for retrieving the body. But money is not the reason why the mother of seven children does such deeds.
Shantamma and her husband Shiva, who live on the footpath by the Katta Maisamma temple near Hussain Sagar, look at it as an act of charity. They have been doing this for many years and take the money that the families offer wholeheartedly. The couple is always a call away when the need arises.
Shiva, who was a seventh class drop-out, started fetching bodies as a teenager. Both Shiva and Shantamma grew up together, and Shantamma has been filling for her husband since 2004. The couple grew up together, got married, and now have a brood of seven. But that does not deter them from the hazardous task. They rescue those who jump into the lake to commit suicide.
It is known that Hussian Sagar is full of pollutants that are pretty harmful. Still, the couple takes it as their responsibility to get the bodies of people who commit suicide by jumping into the lake and also search for bodies that lie on the lake bed that is 30-60 feet deep. Shiva lauds his wife Shantamma for her courage and determination to help him in his endeavor.
Shiva, who is now 37, travels to districts for search operations, and Shantamma promptly fills in. While many look at her with suspicion, she is good at her job and does it without any safety mechanisms.
Ironically, there are four outposts and one police station at Hussain Sagar. But none of the staff in these places know swimming, and neither do they have the equipment or apparatus to do the needful if they see anyone jumping into the lake. They only stop some from jumping, counsel them and reunite them with their families.