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

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.

Kashmirisation of India? Ayodhya communal harmony meet: Activists stopped, detained

Counterview Desk
In a joint statement, three civil rights organizations, Rihai Manch, National Alliance of People's Movements and Lok Rajniti Manch, and Socialist Party (India), have taken strong exception to the Uttar Pradesh government taking "preventive" steps against those seeking to hold a meeting on communal harmony at Ayodhya.