Denied permission to cremate a deceased relative in common ground by caste Hindus when it was raining, Dalits in P Subbulapuram village in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai cremated the body of Shanmugavel using petrol in an open land.
Alaguraj, a relative of Shanmugavel, said, “We approached six leaders of the village to seek permission for burying the corpse in the nearby graveyard, but they refused to give us permission. Then we stood in the rain, and covered it with a flex board. Later, when it stopped raining, the villagers burnt the body using petrol.”
The incident happened on August 17, and comes after reports said a Dalit man’s body was lowered from a bridge as caste Hindus blocked their way to a cremation ground..
Chellakannu, joint secretary, Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, affiliated to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), said the burial ground allotted for the caste Hindus was given by the government for all the families living in the village.
“The caste Hindus, all these years have claimed the ownership for the land and thus others are ruled out of cremation,” he said.
He also said that the caste Hindus picked up a fight with the Dalits who were returning after the cremation, and threatened them.
Chellakannu and other villagers filed a complaint against caste discrimination, but police filed a case against six dalit men and later released them for alleged breach of peace under TNPC Act Section 75.
The relatives of the deceased will be filing a petition to the Madurai collector on Wednesday (September 4).
The villagers also said that they have been meted out discrimination in several other ways, including in use of temple.
Alaguraj said they are not employed for jobs, nor are they given proper drainage facility, making their lives miserable.