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Cremation of Dalit Woman forbidden in Uttar Pradesh

‘Harijan service is a duty the caste Hindus owe to themselves.’ - Mahatma Gandhi

Imagine the sadness, anger and pain Rahul Bajaniya had to go through, when a group of 200 men lifted the body of his wife from on top of a funeral pyre, stating that the cremation site was not for villagers from the less privileged castes, and in this case, the Dalits. After multiple pleadings with the mob, and in fear of something far worse happening, they were forced to carry her body and cremate it around 4 kilometres from there.

Discrimination as we know it, has not ceased to take place, and is all the more getting worse. Bajaniya was quoted saying that people from the ‘upper castes’ even objected to them collecting water from the nearby public hand-pump. This outrageous incident fuelled a line of comments from campaigners and politicians, one being Kumari Mayawati, A Dalit leader herself. She was quoted saying, “In this casteist and most disgusting incident, a high-level inquiry should be done by the government and the culprits should ben given the harshest punishment so that such an incident is not repeated in the state.”

Unfortunately, the police cannot take any action against these group of people, unless Rohit Bajaniya and his family file a formal police complaint, which they decided not to. He wanted to ‘live peacefully in the village’ and not be at the vortex of problems any more than he already is, since a few families of the ‘privileged caste’ provided him and his family with part-time jobs. This only proves the fact furthermore, that caste discrimination definitely exists in India, even after being banned way back in 1955.

As compensation for this, he and his family have requested for a separate burial ground, as they find this the only viable solution, and we don’t blame them. Standing in their shoes, there’s absolutely nothing more they can do than raising their voices, holding non-violent protests, etc., unless the government meets their needs and queries.

Many a times, Dalit families have been forced to keep the body of a deceased family member for days, until they find a suitable spot to bury or cremate them. This not only stands as a hygienic threat during the COVID - 19 pandemic, but also serves to prove the lengths these people have to go to, to make sure their personal boundaries aren’t violated and no problems are caused. Incidents similar to these happen very often in these villages, but they’re not brought to light very often. This time, it has been brought to the notice of the entire nation and is a call for help from their community to the Government Of India.

Reporter : Kruthika

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