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Gujarat Dalit move to apply 'haldi tilak' as symbolic last rite to Hathras gangrape victim

The banner image
By Our Representative 
In a massive programme, Gujarat’s 431 villages and 305 villages of other states of India, will be holding Prerna Sabha (sacred get together) on October 14, the day on which top Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar embraced Buddhism in 1956. The programme will be held to give respects to the Hathras teenage girl, who was gangraped on September 14.
She subsequently died a fortnight later, but her body was allegedly refused respectable funeral by the authorities, not allowing her mother to apply “haldi-tilak” (turmeric mark) to her body, a religious rite. She was reportedly unceremoniously cremated in the absence of the family past midnight.
Announcing this, senior Dalit rights activist Martin Macwan, founder of the Gujarat-based human rights NGO Navsarjan Trust, said, “On this day people will apply a haldi tilak (turmeric power mark) on the poster that carries the representational image of the victim, whose face held in hands is in flames and smoke.”
Haldi tilak to be applied on the banner image – an artwork by Shiraj Hussain from Khwab Tanha Collective – will be “a mark of respect” towards the Hathras teenage girl, who became a victim of upper caste violence, Macwan asserted, adding, the event will be the fulfillment of “her last wish to apply haldi (turmeric powder).”
Macwan said, “Dalits families will donated a pinch of turmeric powder. The programme would end with handing over the collected haldi to the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh to be immersed in Ganga, since the state did not respect the religious/cultural rites of Dalit victim.”
The collected haldi is proposed to be handed over UP chief minister to be immersed in Ganga, since the state didn't respect the religious/cultural rites of the Dalit victim
In a statement announcing the programme, Macwan wondered whether Dalits have a last wish respected by the state, pointing out, “It’s a fact that the mortal remains of rape victim of Hathras were burnt by the state, thereby also destroying the crucial evidence required by the law.”
Ironically, Macwan said, in sharp contrast, the Government of India is known to have respected “the last wish of the Nirbhaya convicts as terrorists Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab, in addition to ensure that their mortal remains were cremated/buried according to their religious.”
He underlined, “The Hathras victim was neither the convict, accused or a terrorist but she was the victim of sexual abuse, and yet the state of Uttar Pradesh did not allow the last wish of her mother, to apply haldi-turmeric powder on the body of the deceased as per the cultural-religious tradition.”
Deploring the move, he called it India’s “the first grave violation of the kind, committed by the state – the attempt of the state to deny religious rites.”

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