The body of a Nat woman had to be taken off the pyre and taken to a ground 4 km away “meant for the Dalit community” owing to the objection by Thakur community of Kakarpura Village, about 20 km from Agra.
According to a Times of India report, 26-year-old Pooja succumbed to a uterus infection on July 19 and the incident happened the next day when her body was taken for cremation.
No FIR has been filed in the matter, as Pooja’s family reportedly did not submit a written complaint.
The TOI report said that the family of the deceased took the body to the gram sabha cremation ground as the land marked for the cremation of the Nat community “had been encroached on by a Brahmin”.
Pooja’s husband, Rahul, was quoted as saying: “So we decided to cremate Pooja on the grounds everyone in the village uses. We set up the pyre, her four-year-old son Rohan was about to light it when a group of Thakur men came running. They asked us to stop the cremation.”
The gram pradhan, administration, police, and local leaders intervened in a standoff that went on for six hours. Pooja’s brother-in-law Saudan Singh was quoted as saying: “But the Thakur men didn’t budge. They forced us to take her body away to Nagla Lal Das cremation ground, which our community is supposed to use.”
Gram Pradhan Suman’s husband Banwari told TOI that after the Thakur men refused to “allow” Pooja’s cremation, they requested the family to take her body to the ground 4 km away.
The Thakurs in the village have justified the incident citing the need to “adherence to the rules”. One resident, Harveer Singh, went to the extent of saying: “Nats are Nomads. They were given this land decades ago to live beside Thakurs. Is that not enough,” according to the report.
Circle Officer B S Kumar was quoted as saying, “No FIR was lodged because the family didn’t file a written complaint. The matter was resolved peacefully.” He admitted that such opposition to the cremation of a lower caste person by the upper caste is illegal, but added that the caste system is deeply rooted in Indian society. “The family also wanted peace and was promised land for cremation,” he added.
The opposition to the cremation of those belonging to the Dalit community has been a recurring phenomenon. Dalits at Gata village in Rajasthan's Tonk district had earlier this year been prevented from cremating the body of an old woman at the public crematorium, as the people belonging to the dominant Jat community destroyed the funeral pyre and allegedly threatened the family of the deceased, according to a report by The Hindu.
Leaders of the Dalit community had made a pyre in front of the Gram Panchayat office at Uchila Bada village and protested against Dalits not being allowed to cremate their dead at a crematorium under litigation in the village near Padubidri in Udupi district on January 29, this year.
In a viral video last year, a 46-year-old man's body was seen being lowered from a 20-feet high bridge as upper-caste Hindus in Tamil Nadu’s Vaniyambadi, had not allowed the funeral procession to pass through their land.