Goan Dalit denied equality even in death
DH News Service
PANAJI, Sept 11
In a case that has shocked this state, dalits here were denied the right to cremate a member of their community within the crematorium shed used by Hindus of other castes. The conflict on Monday, called for the intervention of the police, who managed to avert an ugly confrontation between the two groups. But it still denied the dalit the equality of rights even in death.
After Krishna Dhondu Korgaonkar expired late Sunday, a group of dalits approached the Mapusa police for protection to cremate him in the crematorium in a village near Anjuna, North Goa. Their move was strongly resisted by other Hindus, who wanted the man cremated outside of the main cremation shed.
There was tension already in the village between the two groups, after a dalit member had been cremated there a fortnight ago. Enraged by the move, higher caste Hindus had the shed purified by poojas performed by 7 Hindu priests, according to local reports.
But some panchayat members here felt that since government funds had been used to build the crematorium shed, the dalits too had a right to its use. Such arguments, even in these advanced times however, failed to convince all sides.
Police mediation succeeded eventually in drawing an undertaking from the dalit community that the cremation would take place outside the shed, and that a separate shed would be provided by the panchayat for the use of the dalits.