Panchayat shuns the dead

Panchayat shuns the dead

As if banning love marriages and use of cellphones by women were not enough, panchayats in Uttar Pradesh have now turned their attention towards ‘controlling’ life after death also.

A panchayat at  Muslim-majority village in  Muzaffarnagar district has reportedly banned burial of people who had settled there recently.

The panchayat’s decision, according to members who attended it, was prompted by overcrowding of a graveyard at the village, as a result of which old residents were finding it difficult to bury the dead there.

According to reports, there was a huge graveyard at Nirana village, where residents buried the dead. Only a few months back, the graveyard was divided into three parts by villagers for burial as per their castes.

As the number of people settling in the village registered a sharp increase over the last few years, finding burial space at the graveyard had become a problem, residents said.

On Friday, they held a panchayat and declared that those who had settled at the village in the last 30 years will not be allowed to bury the dead. The declaration was announced reportedly from the loudspeakers of a local mosque. It also warned violators of serious consequences.

Village pradhan Tayyab Ali said such a decision was taken but he does not agree with it. “I am opposed to such a decision,” he added.

“We are scared. We will now collect money to buy land for another graveyard,” said an affected villager. The affected people have decided to charge Rs 5,000 from families whose male members got married.

Officials said they had no knowledge about the panchayat’s directive. “We are looking into the reports,” an official said.

Panchayats in UP have become a law unto themselves. Only recently a panchayat had banned entry of Dalits at an ancient temple of Lord Shiva. Another panchayat had banned use of cellphones by women under 40 year, and had asked them not to go to markets without escorts.

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