Thakur Men Stop Cremation of “Lower Caste” Woman on “Their” Grounds. India Should be Ashamed

Social Commentary

Thakur Men Stop Cremation of “Lower Caste” Woman on “Their” Grounds. India Should be Ashamed

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

It is almost as if India has to fill a daily quota of caste-related violence and outrage. In yet another shameful reminder that caste is the bane of Indian society, “upper caste” villagers in Uttar Pradesh refused to allow the cremation of a young woman on “their” grounds.

On July 19, in Uttar Pradesh’s Kakarpura village in Etawah district, the young woman, 26, who belongs to the Nat community, died of a uterus infection. Nats are a nomadic community and are considered “lower caste”. Her body was taken to the gram sabha cremation ground, used by everyone in the village.

In an interview with The Times of India, the woman’s husband Rahul stated that a group of Thakur men, who are considered “upper caste”, appeared just as his four-year-old son was about to light the pyre. The men demanded that the body be taken to the cremation ground meant for the lower caste and Dalit communities. This continued for six hours.

A video of the incident started doing the rounds. In it, the viewer can see the young woman’s body just lying on the ground as her family and other men mill about.

Eventually, the body was taken off the pyre and brought to the Nagla Das cremation ground, four km away from the village. According to The Times of India report, Rahul said that the cremation ground meant for the Dalit community in their village, was taken over by Brahmins. The Thakur men remained adamant and even justified their actions by saying that the “rules” must be followed by everyone. Another villager quoted in the report said, “They [Nats] were given this land decades ago to live beside Thakurs. Is that not enough?”

The UP police is reported to have been involved now, even though no arrests have been made nor action taken against the men who prevented the cremation. According to the circle officer BS Veer Kumar, the woman’s family did not file any complaint against the upper caste men, and the matter was resolved “peacefully”.

There ought to be no “peaceful” resolution to such a contemptible matter though.

Mayawati, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo and former CM of Uttar Pradesh, labelled it a disgrace and highly condemnable. She also demanded a high-level inquiry into it, avoiding a repeat of such an incident.

Several handles associated with the Congress took to the story to blame the Adityanath government.

The incident has rightly been panned as “shameful”.

The true face of “Hindu Rashtra”.

These are headlines that belong in the past. Caste has no place in the India of 2020.