Skip to main content

Gujarat court rules five year imprisonment for "not allowing" Dalits to use cremation ground in Godhra village

A 2014 Dalit rally against refusal to allow cremation ground
By Our Representative
In a unique victory for Gujarat Dalits, a Godhra court has sentenced Nimesh Gordhanbhai Patel for five years’ imprisonment and Rs 25,000 fine for refusing permission to Dalits to cremate one Nanabhai Kohyabhai Vankar, who died at the age of 75 in on September 19, 2014, in the cremation ground of Mehlol village of Godhra taluka.
Patel managed the cremation ground, which was built from the grant of former BJP MLA, Prabhatsinh Chauhan.
Following the refusal to allow Vankar to be cremated on the common ground, senior activist Rohit Manu of Gujarat’s largest Dalit rights group, Navsarjan Trust, filed an FIR with the Vejalpur police station under the anti-atrocities Act, citing it as a clear case of untouchability.
From existing records, this is for the first time when a Gujarat court has ordered stringent punishment for not allowing Dalits to use a cremation ground.
The Godhra sessions court order has come, ironically, at a time when the Gujarat government has been providing funds for separate cremation grounds for Dalits, who are refused to perform the last rites of their departed near and dear ones on the common cremation ground.
A 2016 Navsarjan Trust survey says, funds have been allocated to as many as 50 villages across Gujarat for this. Interestingly, in Central Gujarat’s rich Kheda district's Moholel village, where the Dalits are just 5% of the population, there are three crematoriums – one for the "general" and two for the "lower castes".
A report quotes Manish Parmar, a resident of Moholel village as saying, “By building different crematoriums for Dalits instead of ensuring that the last rites for their dead are performed in the crematoriums common to all, the government is trying to create a rift."
Justifying the creation of separate crematoriums a senior state official, however, said, "The work was done as per government guidelines. Separate crematoriums are approved if there is a demand from the communities or recommendation from MLAs.” 
Vankar cremated outside the village cremation ground
Manu, who filed the untouchability case against those denying cremation facilities for Dalits in the Godhra village, backed by Maheshbhai Dhulabhai Parmar, Rajesh Solanki, lawyer Narendra Parmar, said, “There is nothing unusual in Gujarat for not allowing Dalits a separate cremation ground. It is part of the prevailing untouchability milieu in the state.”
Ashaben, a government pleader, fought the case in the Godhra sessions court.
“We live in a state where untouchability does not leave us even when we die”, Manu regretted, adding, “The case was filed following protests in Godhra against the refusal to cremate Vankar on the common cremation ground. The Dalits cremated the body outside the age of the cremation ground, which has been built from the local MLA’s grant.”
The 2014 Dalit representation to the district officials following the protest in Godhra said, “The relatives of the deceased had no other option but to cremate Vankar’s body outside the closed gate of the cremation ground.”
The representation further said , “It is disturbing that, even decades after Independence, Dalits are subjected to untouchability even after they are dead. This is a serious violation of our basic human rights, and you are requested to take legal action against those responsible for this.”
It added, “When the family members of the deceased reached the cremation ground with the body, the person who manages it, Nimesh Gordhanbhai Patel, told them that they could not cremate Vankar’s body within its premises. This happened when they approached Patel for the keys of the main gates of the cremation ground, which were closed.”

Comments

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Dalit, Adivasi protest in Jharkhand against 'illegal' transfer of land for development

By Rishit Neogi Displacement and eviction are not new terms. It is surprising that they are still continuing and have become a tool in the hands of state backed corporates to forcibly occupy lands in the name of development.