The aggrieved people, who pointed out that their demand for a burial ground was pending for several years, said that Dalits, the landless, and the poor people were the worst affected. Mohammed Monu, president of the Pavoor gram panchayat, who first raised the issue, said that the eight villages of Pajir, Belman, Manjanady, Kairangala, Pavoor, Boliyer, Harekala, and Konaje did not have any Government designated burial ground. “Nearly 50,000 people live in these villages,” he said.

According to Mr. Monu, the land-owners and “caste” Hindus did not have any problem since they buried the dead in their own land. “They have tens of acres of land whereas most Dalits do not own even one cent of land,” he said. Taking a cue from him, many others raised a pandemonium at the meeting. A few of them pointed out that even the poor among the “caste” Hindus had access to private burial grounds but Dalits did not.

“The landed “caste” Hindus accommodate the grave of a person belonging to his own or other “caste” Hindu communities. They allow the last rites to be performed in the lands owned by them. But the same largesse is not shown to Dalits,” said a participant. “Under such circumstances, a Government burial ground is essential. It is a question of extending the most basic dignity to a departed soul,” said Achuta Gatti, former president of Konaje gram panchayat.

Mr. Gatti said that a 2.5-acre land had been identified by the Revenue Department for a burial ground within the Konaje gram panchayat limits. But the land had not been handed over to the panchayat yet.

Mr. Monu said that a six-acre plot had been identified in Pavoor for a Hindu burial ground about eight years ago. But, some caste Hindus, who own some lands near the proposed site, had prevented the burial ground from being created there, he said. “There is a stigma attached to the burial process and nobody wants to have a burial ground near his property,” said U.T Khader, MLA.

The district administration, along with the Revenue Department, should take stern steps to remedy the situation, he added.

The participants raised the long-standing demand for adequate bus connectivity to the region around the Mangalore University and Deralakatte.

They claimed that private buses were not plying on these routes and those plying on them were habitually behind schedule.

Mr. Khader said that he would recommend the introduction of Government buses on the route.

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