Dalits protest demanding land for cremation

Tahsildar promises land after survey
Last Updated : 24 February 2010, 18:28 IST

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The Dalits, led by Dalit Sangharsha Samiti, gheraoed the Panchayat seeking a site to cremate the body of a Dalit woman who died on Tuesday. Tensed moments prevailed in the Panchayat premises when the protesting Dalits made arrangements to cremate the woman’s body right in front of the Panchayat building in Malavur.

The protesters said they lost their crematorium in Ambedkar Nagar when about an acre of land in the area was acquired for the Bajpe airport a few years back; since then they were depending on private land holdings in their neighbourhood for last rites.

“There are about 50 families of Dalits in Ambedkar Nagar, which have no facility to cremate in case of deaths. We have been demanding some space for the purpose for the past five years, but the urge has fallen on deaf ears,” the protesters alleged.

“During a meeting on January 16, the authorities had assured that we would be allotted a site for crematorium within 10 days, but nothing has happened so far. Gulabi, a 45-year-old cancer patient died on Tuesday but the family could not cremate the body since there was no space. We had no other option than deciding to cremate the body in front of the Gram Panchayat building,” said a Dalit leader.

The protesters had prepared for the last rites, arranging firewood, flowers and other materials. However, learning about the incident, Mangalore Tahsildar Ravichandra Naik arrived on the spot, only to be gheraoed by the protesters.

The Tahsildar promised the protesters that he would show a site for crematorium within half-an-hour and began searching some government land in the area. The search went on till 2.30 pm but in vein. The officials could not find any vacant government land, which further enraged the protesters.

Finally, the Tahsildar said he had negotiated with the owner of a private land in the area to allow the Dalits to observe the last rites for the dead in a portion of his land until a solution is drawn to their problem. The body of Gulabi was cremated in the private land identified by the Tahsildar in the afternoon.

Survey on March 10

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Naik said a survey will be conducted in Ambedkar Nagar on March 10 to find out whether there is any land available for the cremation.

“It is true their land has been acquired for the airport but there is another crematorium in the adjacent Kenjar village at a distance of one kilometre. However, they are not ready to use it,” he said.

“Whatever land available in the area is ‘patta’ land which can not be allotted for the purpose. We hope that at least 10 cents of vacant land can be identified after the survey,” he said.

Published 24 February 2010, 18:28 IST

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