Thakurs deny Dalit woman cremation, police initiate probe
The Agra Police have launched an inquiry into an incident that took place a few days ago whereby a Dalit woman’s family was forced to remove her body from the funeral pyre by ‘upper’ castes. This incident took place in Kakarpura village in Etawah district, approximately 20 kms from Agra in Uttar Pradesh. Pooja, a 26 year old Nat woman 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.
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. 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.
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.
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”. When asked why Pooja’s father-in-law Brijpal told the Indian Express, “We did not want a dispute. We are very poor and can’t take on the people as they are affluent.”
The Agra police have taken suo moto cognisance of the incident and Agra Additional SP (West) Ravi Kumar told the Indian Express, “We took suo moto cognizance of the issue after seeing reports in media and had sent a police team to inquire into the matter. No written complaint was received from the family of Pooja, but we are getting the matter probed by Circle Officer (Achhnera) B S Veer Kumar and action will be taken accordingly”.
Even BSP chief Mayawati took to her Twitter account demanding a high level inquiry, “This is a shameful and condemnable incident. To stop such incidents from happening again, the state government should order a high-level probe and take strict action…”
Courtesy : Sabrang