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

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why's Govt of India reluctant to consider battery storage system for renewal energy?

By Shankar Sharma*  If having so many small size battery energy storage system (BESS) at different locations of the grid, as in the report from Australia (a portfolio of 27 small battery storage projects across three Australian states that will total arounds 270 MWh), is considered to be techno-economically attractive in a commercially driven market such as Australia, the question that becomes a lot more relevance to Indian scenario is: why are our planners not in favour of installing such small size BESS at most of the distribution sub-stations not only to accelerate the addition of RE power capacities, but also to minimise the need for large size solar/ wind power parks, dedicated transmission lines and pumped storage plants; which will also minimise the associated technical losses.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

New MVA-INDIA MPs asked to raise Maharashtra milk farmers' demand

By Our Representative  All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) national president Dr Ashok Dhawale and AIKS Maharashtra general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale have asked three newly-elected MPs of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-INDIA) from the milk belt of Maharashtra Dr Amol Kolhe (NCP),  Bhausaheb Wakchaure (SS), and Nilesh Lanke (NCP), to take up the cause of milk farmers of Maharashtra in Parliament.  After congratulating them on their resounding victory over their BJP-NDA rivals, the AIKS leaders apprised them of the milk farmers struggle which is intensifying in the state under the leadership of the AIKS and the Milk Farmers Joint Struggle Committee, and requested them to support it. All three MPs agreed not only to support, but also to take the initiative in this struggle, an official AIKS communique claimed. Farmers in Maharashtra are currently getting as low as Rs 24-27 per litre for cow milk, which is being sold in the market for Rs 56-60 per litre, the AIKS leaders noted. The low price to farmer