Kendrapara- A viral image of a crematorium in Kendrapara, Odisha, bearing the exclusionary label "only for Brahmins" sparked outrage on social media, few days back, drawing protests from the Dalit community. The incident prompted widespread criticism, highlighting that even in death, caste discrimination persists in our country. Subsequently, under public pressure, the municipal administration removed the discriminatory inscription and opened the crematorium for all sections of society.
According to media reports, this crematorium, established in 1928 exclusively for Brahmins, has been found to be in violation of the law and the Constitution. Legal experts argue that such practices infringe upon Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution, which prohibit discrimination based on religion or caste.
Despite these constitutional violations, the perplexing question remains: how did this discriminatory practice persist for so long under the supervision of Odisha's oldest municipality, established in 1869? The entry path, previously marked as the "Brahmin crematorium," has now been amended, with "Swargadwar" replacing the divisive inscription.
The Kendrapara Municipality in Odisha, the state's oldest civic body, faced public fury over a board restricting access to Brahmins at the Hazaribagicha cremation ground. Local residents report that for an extended period, the cremation ground was exclusively used for one caste community. The municipality recently renovated the facility using government grants, leading to the installation of the controversial board. The official board, stating "Brahmin crematorium," appeared after the renovation.
The Mooknayak spoke with Nagendra Jena, the District President of the Dalit Samaj in Kendrapara. He revealed that the contentious board was replaced only after four to five days, now welcoming all classes. Jena said, "This incident is not isolated, as caste discrimination persists throughout the region. There is much efforts required to bring in further reforms considering the challenging nature of dismantling deeply entrenched caste-based discrimination. Despite the difficulties, efforts will continue to address and eradicate such discriminatory practices."