TN: 'This Is Our Cremation Ground', Upper Caste Tell Dalits, Make Them Wait In Rain With Corpse
In yet another case of caste oppression, dominant caste people in Peraiyur inspector village in Madurai district denied Dalits to cremate their kin’s body at ‘their’ crematorium ground.
The incident took place on August 17, the same day when in Vellore, members of the Dalit community lowered a dead body from a bridge using ropes allegedly because the members from upper-class community denied them permission to carry the body through their land.
Denied Permission To Use Burial Ground
V Shanmugavel, who died after a prolonged illness, belonged to Adi Dravida, a Dalit community. His relatives took his body to their traditional burial ground to give him a dignified farewell. But they were unable to fire the pyre due to incessant rains.
Left with no other choice, they approached the caste Hindus (belonging to dominant Reddiyar community) requesting them to use their burial ground located next to their ground. This burial ground, as opposed to the one used by the Dalit community, has multiple facilities like sheds, and the whole ground is surrounded by a compound.
“They asked the caste Hindus if they could use their grounds to burn the body but they refused to let them in. This despite them explaining the problem at hand,” said Chellakannu, the state President of the Tamil Nadu Eradication of Untouchability Front, to The News Minute.
A video has been doing rounds on social media in which helpless relatives of Shanmugavel are seen requesting the dominant caste to use their burial ground. They can also be seen complaining of the lack of facilities at their burial ground.
No dignity in death: Dalit community in Madurai struggles to conduct funeral in rain. The burial grounds for caste Hindus, they allege, are separate and with better facilities. @thenewsminute pic.twitter.com/HJjclG8jPL
— priyankathirumurthy (@priyankathiru) September 2, 2019
The relatives were left with no choice but to cover the corpse with straw mats. In fact, the body was only half-burnt when the rain doused the fire. They had to pour petrol allegedly on the corpse to burn it again.
Members from both the community then approached the police. The upper-caste Hindus blamed the Dalits for trying to use their burial ground. “The dominant community complained to the police that we picked up a fight with them over the burial ground while we pointed that we were being discriminated against,” says Chellakannu the state President of the Tamil Nadu Eradication of Untouchability Front. However, the Peraiyur inspector denied any complaint been registered in the case. He even said that they have ‘settled’ the matter.
The village has about 50 families belonging to the Dalit community, and 150 families belong to the dominant caste. After the incident of Vellore of lowering of the corpse from the bridge went viral, the district administration had sought to allot a separate burial land to Dalits. However, this idea was slammed by the High Court, calling it inequality.