Nat woman denied cremation at ‘upper’ caste funeral ground in UP
In a shocking incident, a Nat woman was denied a dignified funeral by members of the Thakur community who forced her family to remove her body from the funeral pyre just before her four-year-old son was about to light the flame.
This blatantly illegal act of caste-based segregation even in death, took place in Kakarpura village in Etawah district, approximately 20 kms from Agra in Uttar Pradesh. According to Times of India, 26-year-old Pooja succumbed to a uterus infection on July 19 and her family was all set to perform her last rites at the gram sabha cremation ground the following day. Her body was already placed on the pyre all set to be lit when members of the Thakur community intervened.
Pooja’s husband Rahul told TOI “The land marked for cremation of those from our community had been encroached on by a Brahmin. So, we decided to cremate Pooja on the grounds everyone in the village uses. We set up the pyre, her four-year-old son Rohan was about to light it when a group of Thakur men came running. They asked us to stop the cremation.” This led to a stand-off that lasted almost six hours despite the presence of the Gram Pradhan, the police and local leaders.
The family was eventually forced to take the body to the Nagla Lal Das cremation ground 4 kms away. This is apparently the designated cremation ground for people not hailing from ‘upper’ castes. There are reportedly 11 cremation grounds for residents of four villages under the gram panchayat. Local Thakurs reportedly justify the segregation as “following rules” with some even insisting that the Nats, a nomadic community, should be grateful that Thakurs even gave them land in the area to settle down in the first place.
Interestingly, no FIR was filed in the matter. Circle Officer BS Veer Kumar told TOI, “No FIR was lodged because the family didn’t file a written complaint. The matter was resolved peacefully.”
While it is understandable that the family may be feeling intimidated, it appears that the ‘upper’ caste residents enjoy tacit support of the administration. In what appears to be a thinly-veiled justification, Kumar appeared to support the utterly illegal act on grounds of maintaining “peace and tranquility”. Kumar told TOI, “We understand that denying cremation of lower caste people by those from the upper caste is illegal, but the caste system is deeply rooted in Indian society. To maintain peace and tranquility, we have to maintain balance. The family also wanted peace and were promised land for cremation.”
Courtesy : Sabrang