Tumkur- In Karnataka's Tumkur district, a distressing incident unfolded last Tuesday as a Dalit family was compelled to bury their deceased father on the roadside due to the absence of a graveyard for their community in the area. Upon receiving information about the roadside burial, the revenue team promptly arrived at the scene, leading to an immediate plea from the people for allocating land for a separate burial area. The villagers asserted that they were not permitted to perform last rites in the existing village graveyard, thereby demanding a separate cemetery for their community.
The tragic episode revolves around the passing of 65-year-old Peddaiah who succumbed to a prolonged illness in Durgadahalli village. Faced with the absence of a public cemetery in Durgahalli, the family resorted to cremating him on the roadside. The road where the body was interred connects to Thimmanayakanahalli village. Villagers have persistently appealed to authorities for a cemetery, alleging that despite numerous pleas and requests, no action has been taken. However, the incident has now heightened the likelihood of the village being granted a graveyard for the Scheduled Caste community.
Upon learning of the roadside burial, officials from the Revenue Department swiftly reached the spot. HK Manjanna, a member of Aregujanahalli gram panchayat, expressed frustration, stating that they have been striving to secure a cemetery for the past decade without any response from authorities or elected representatives. He stated that although two cemeteries exist in the village, they are rendered inaccessible to the Dalit community due to the lack of proper access roads. Urging the concerned authorities, the Gram Panchayat Officer called for the prompt provision of burial facilities. He revealed that the two cemeteries, located at survey numbers four and 83 in Durgadhaalli, measure one acre each.
The Tehsildar visited the village on Monday and directed the Development Officer of Aregujanahalli Gram Panchayat to expedite road repairs. Addressing the allegations of the absence of a graveyard for Dalits, Tumkuru Tehsildar M Siddesh spoke to The Mooknayak and dismissed the complaints as false. He said "There are two graveyards in the village, but the villagers are not using them."
In Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, instances of caste discrimination even after death have come to light.
In a disturbing incident last year in Madhya Pradesh's Guna, a Dalit family was reportedly prevented from conducting the last rites by certain individuals on a platform at a cremation ground. Following this, the police arrested three people, and the family proceeded to perform the last rites on land adjacent to the platform. Video footage of the incident captured a man allegedly stating that the family was not allowed to use the cremation ground stage for the last rites. The police registered a case against the three individuals under the provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
More recently, a controversy erupted in Odisha over a cremation ground exclusively designated for Brahmins. The 155-year-old Kendrapada Municipality added a board indicating a Brahmin cremation ground at the entrance of the cremation ground in Hazaribagicha area of the city. Local sources revealed that the cremation ground had been utilized for the last rites of Brahmins for an extended period.
The official board was reportedly erected recently after the facility underwent renovation with government grants. In response to protests from the Dalit community and warnings of agitation, the controversial board was eventually removed.