A man whose campaign highlighted a longstanding grave deeds “oversight” has finally been granted an Exclusive Right of Burial.

Monty Meghjee launched the awareness campaign after his 76-year-old uncle Basheer was laid to rest at Woodcock Hill Cemetery in Rickmansworth when he died from Covid-19 on March 25 last year.

Following the burial, Mr Meghjee exposed the fact that not one Muslim family had been granted a Deed of Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial.

Instead, families had to purchase burial rights from the BW Foundation; the organisation that leases the Muslim-side of the cemetery from Three Rivers District Council.

Just 12 days after the burial on March 27, the Meghjee family say they were unaware that the grave was opened up so that the corpse of an unrelated stranger could share the same grounds - which kickstarted the campaign.

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Considering the non-Muslim side of the cemetery were being issued deeds under rule of Three Rivers, there were concerns that there was a “difference in treatment” between the Muslim and non-Muslim sections.

Specifically, Mr Meghjee believed that having the grant of Exclusive Rights of Burial helps “guard against interference” with the grave as the family have greater say and control in what happens with it.


Basheer (right) with his wife Zeenat, his son Abbas and daughter-in-law Zora

Basheer (right) with his wife Zeenat, his son Abbas and daughter-in-law Zora


Mr Meghjee’s uncle shared a grave with a stranger after the family signed a document that consented to a possible two-tier burial, but they never once believed it would happen and signed the document because they wanted the burial to take place as quickly as possible - as is the Islam practice.

This policy meant that graves in the Muslim section of the cemetery – run by charity BW Foundation - could be reopened for a second body to be buried there if there was a shortage of plots due to a rise of deaths.

The policy, which has since been lifted after Mr Meghjee highlighted its issues, was introduced on March 16, 2020. The policy states the “emergence of the Covid-19 virus is expected to escalate demand for grave spaces significantly”.

The non-Muslim side of the cemetery did not have the same policy, and Mr Meghjee believes had the family initially been granted the Exclusive Rights of Burial, the mistake would have never occurred.

After much media coverage and a campaign, Three Rivers District Council have finally begun to issue the deeds to families who request it.


Basheer Meghjees grave

Basheer Meghjee's grave


Mr Meghjee was granted the Exclusive Rights of Burial on October 12, roughly just a week after applying for it.

Nearly 50 other people have also received their deeds upon requesting it, the campaigner believes.

While he is happy with the “swift” process of requesting a deed from the council and being granted it, he believes that the BW Foundation and the council should actively make other families aware that this is possible.

Outside of media coverage and families contacted during the campaign, many families of the 700 people buried could be unaware that a deed can be requested – particularly as some families are from Harrow, Stanmore and other areas further away from Rickmansworth and Watford.

Mr Meghjee said: “We should never have been in the position of fighting for the same rights as non-Muslim families, solely because of some deal struck with an external body many years ago.

“It is now for the council to make amends and allow Muslim families to be put into the same position as non-Muslim families and help them to get the exclusive rights of burial.”


Basheer Meghjee died after contracting Covid-19 - and due to a misunderstanding he shared a grave with a stranger

Basheer Meghjee died after contracting Covid-19 - and due to a misunderstanding he shared a grave with a stranger


The campaigner suggested that a downloadable form should be available on the council website, notices should be placed in the cemetery and the BW Foundation should contact families who have members buried at the site.

Mr Meghjee continued: “While it may seem like a piece of paper, the exclusive right of burial is a legal document which is tangible evidence of the burial rights that families believe that they already enjoy.

“I would encourage the District Council and the BW Foundation to open up to the public what they have already accepted in private.”

Currently the process to apply for the deeds is simple – despite many families not being aware that they can request it.

To do so, email cemeteries@threerivers.gov.uk and request a form to complete, anyone with any questions can contact the helpful staff at 01923 727 031 and deeds are generally being issued within a week.