Dalit man’s body lowered from bridge in Tamil Nadu

The incident that took place on Saturday last has come to light now, thanks to a video showing the body being lowered using cradles that has now gone viral on the social media.

After being disallowed by upper-caste Hindus to carry dead bodies of people belonging to the Dalit community, the corpse of a 55-year-old man was lowered from a 20 feet high bridge over a river for cremation in Vellore district in northern Tamil Nadu.

The incident that took place on Saturday last has come to light now, thanks to a video showing the body being lowered using cradles that has now gone viral on the social media.

Relatives and family members of Kuppan, the deceased, had to resort to lowering the body from a bridge as upper-caste Hindus had disallowed them from carrying corpse of Dalit men and women through their fields. Kuppan died in a road accident on August 16. 

The people belonging to Dalit community have been forced to use the crematorium at Narayanapuram village near Vaniyambadi in the district after an exclusive crematorium for their community has exceeded its capacity. In the video that has gone viral now, people are seen lowering the corpse from the bridge and it being received by another group standing beneath the bridge.

As the incident sent ripples across the state, Vellore district administration officials denied any caste angle to the incident and swung into action on Thursday by allotting half acre of land as cremation ground for Dalits in the village.

“We ordered an inquiry into the incident There was no confrontation between the Dalits and owners of the land (upper caste people) on Saturday when the body was lowered. The Dalits requested a new separate crematorium for them, and it has been given on Thursday,” Tirupattur Sub-collector B Priyanka told DH.

Villagers said they had always lowered the dead bodies from the middle of the bridge whenever the need arises for someone to be cremated as the landowners erected fence a decade ago. “But there was no confrontation on Saturday as we did not demand the landowners to open the way for us as we have been used to lowering the body from the bridge,” Vijay, a relative of the deceased, said.

Villupuram MP and leader of VCK, a Dalit party, D Ravikumar, told DH that such incidents show the inhuman condition in which people from certain sections are forced to live. “The atrocities against sections of the society increases only because of the inaction by the government. Those guilty should booked under the SC/ST Act and punished,” Ravikumar said.

He added that the monitoring committee mandated under the Act should meet under the chairmanship of the District Collector every month which does not happen regularly.

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