The Jakarta Post
The demolition of Baitul Rahman public cemetery (TPU) in Ciputat, South Tangerang, to make way for the Serpong-Cinere toll road project went awry on Monday as some of the workers tasked with digging up and removing the graves reportedly became “possessed” by ghosts and ran amok.
The workers are employed in a team under the Public Works and Housing Ministry, which was tasked with overseeing the project.
“It is true that some workers were possessed [by ghosts] when we were dismantling the graves,” ministry staffer Puji Laksono said on Monday, Warta Kota reported.
The incident alerted some of the residents living near the cemetery, resulting in them stepping in to assist the so-called possessed workers.
“Our team members who were possessed ran amok. They were immediately treated. Locals said that the workers were possessed by the ghosts at the cemetery,” Puji said.
“We brought religious leaders and staffers from the Religious Affairs Ministry’s chapter in South Tangerang on site [to help the workers].”
Puji said the workers dug the soil manually using hoes and none of the local residents expressed resistance even though no cash compensation was given.
At least three public cemeteries – Baitul Rahman cemetery in Ciputat and two public cemeteries in Pamulang and Bambu Apus in South Tangerang – will be demolished to make way for the Serpong-Cinere toll road project.
Around 239 graves will be demolished in Baitul Rahman cemetery.
One of the heirs of a graveyard, Arul, said that initially the residents were confused as to where the bodies of their family members would be relocated after the public cemetery was demolished.
“If they are relocated far away, of course we will refuse. But if they are relocated close by here, it’s OK,” he said.
Work dismantling the cemetery is slow. Pendi – one of the workers tasked with digging up the graves – said that the workers had to be careful when removing the bodies from each grave.
“We have to be careful so we don’t damage the bodies. It’s hard because some of the graves are old while some are new. In a day we can remove up to 20 graves,” he said.
Puji said that the ministry deployed up to 16 people separated into four teams to remove the graves. (ami)