Other States

Discrimination even in death at Rajasthan crematoriums

No one outside the Bagad Brahman Samaj, particularly Dalits, can use this shed at Chandpole cremation ground in Jaipur. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras  

It is the Chandpole cremation ground in the heart of Jaipur city. Groups of people have come to perform the last rites of their loved ones.

The mood is sombre. But the exercise, one will observe, is rather mechanical. Each family seems to know under which shed they have to perform the last rites. If they don’t, they are directed to the right one by the workers at the crematorium.

“People know. Families have been performing last rites at this place for ages,” explains a young man. “So they know which shed belongs to their community, or it’s written on the boards up there.” He points to the old, rusted tin board hanging from the sheds covering the concrete platforms where the last rites are performed — ‘saini samaj,’ ‘bagad brahman samaj,’ and so on.....

“It is a common practice and a socially accepted norm in Rajasthan that each caste or community has its own place earmarked for cremation,” explains Satish Kumar, Director Centre for Dalit Rights. “It is generally seen that all upper castes use a common space and the Dalits are pushed some distance away.’

What shocked the Jaipur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court was the fact that the practice was being followed in some crematoriums maintained by the Jaipur Municipal Corporation.

Earlier this week, it directed that cremation grounds should not be used on caste-basis as it violated the Constitution which granted equality to all citizens.

“It is not that all crematoriums follow this practice. It is prevalent only in 4 or 5 old ones where there is enough space,” advocate Ramchandra Machwal told The Hindu.

The court order came on a PIL Mr. Machwal filed last year after he and his family had to wait long to perform the last rites of a relative. The platform meant for Dalits was occupied and they were not allowed to use the others because they belonged to other communities.

“I will wait for a week and then see whether these boards reserving spaces for communities are removed.

The court has asked the Jaipur Municipal Corporation to end the practice immediately and file a compliance report within a week.

The Corporation officers said they were yet to receive a copy of the order. “We expect it today, after which we will study it and act accordingly,” an officer said.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 8:09:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/discrimination-even-in-death-at-rajasthan-crematoriums/article6408302.ece

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