Dalit boy cremated on the road in absence of common cremation grounds

Posted on September 6, 2010 under caste problems

Mehma Bhagwana (Bathinda), September 6: Residents of this
cancer-affected dusty village of Bathinda district today lit the pyre
of a four-year-old Dalit boy in the middle of a road ruing that in the
absence of a common cremation ground, they had no other option.

The boy, Vijay Pal, was reportedly suffering from cancer for the past
few months and passed away last evening. Since then, his kin were not
only grieving over his death but also worrying about finding a place
to cremate him.

The bereaved kin asked the sarpanch to make some arrangements for his
cremation. Unable to do so, the sarpanch offered that they light the
pyre in the middle of the road outside his house.

Before the bereaved kin could light the pyre, policemen from the
Nehianwala police station reached the spot and the SHO, Gurpreet
Singh, brought the matter to the notice of the Bathinda SDM, who
assured to send an executive magistrate soon. Meanwhile, the police
installed barricades on both sides of the road and diverted the
traffic to an alternate route.

To prevent villagers from cremating the body, the SHO kept them
engaged in negotiations. However, when even after over two hours the
executive magistrate did not reach, the villagers lit the pyre on the
road at 10.30 am.

The deceased’s grandfather, Bhola Singh, said: “It is our ill fate
that we could not bid him a decent farewell. We are poor daily wagers
who possess no land. The village too has no common cremation ground,
which forced us to cremate him on the road.”

Gurcharan Singh, a villager, said: “Earlier, the village had its own
cremation ground but about three years ago, the former panchayat
passed a resolution to transfer the land for the cremation ground to
construct waterworks with a hope that the village would get potable
water to save us from the deadly disease of cancer.”

Sarpanch Gamdoor Singh said: “It was also decided that the village
would get an alternate land for the cremation ground. Though the
administration earmarked a piece of land for the purpose, it was
within the boundary wall of the village gurdwara, which we are not
ready to use for this purpose.”

He added that according to the revenue record, the village had one
more chunk of land measuring three kanals and two marlas, which was
the best suited for the cremation ground. “But despite our repeated
representations, the administration is not allowing us to go ahead as
the land is located near the houses of some landlords, who are close
to leaders of the ruling parties,” the sarpanch said. Villagers said
since the authorities had started the construction of the waterworks,
which was being taken up under a World Bank scheme, nearly six deaths
had taken place. In some cases, landlords offered their fields to
perform the last rites but in most of the cases, villagers cremated
their kin even inside their courtyards.

Executive magistrate Avtar Singh said” “The land earmarked for the
cremation ground is best suited for the purpose, but the villagers are
not willing to use it. They are saying that it should be located on
the land near the houses of landlords, but they have objections over
it. Despite this, we are trying to find an amicable solution as more
sites are being considered for the purpose.”

Source: Tribune india


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