Protest over inability to cremate Dalits at Uchila Bada crematorium

The Hindu

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 Protesters threaten cremation outside GP office; ex-panchayat member finally cremated near his house

Leaders of the Dalit community made a pyre in front of the Gram Panchayat office at Uchila Bada village and protested against Dalits not being allowed to cremate their dead at a crematorium under litigation in the village near Padubidri in Udupi district on Tuesday.

They wanted the cremation of a former GP member to be held at the crematorium on Tuesday morning. Officers of the district administration finally managed to calm the protesters and the deceased was cremated near his house in the evening.

Former GP member

Mullagudde Shankar (70), a former GP member and father of Uchila Unit of Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS) Dinakar, died on Tuesday morning.

The public crematorium at Uchila has been under litigation for nearly 12 years. DSS leaders and members of the Dalit community in the village insisted that the deceased should be cremated in the public crematorium under litigation. If not allowed, they threatened to do the cremation in front of the GP office and made a pyre there.

Mohammed Isaak, Kaup Tahsildar, and other officers, rushed to the spot and tried to pacify the protesters, who remained unrelenting.

Sundar Master, Chief Convener, DSS district unit, said that the only public Hindu crematorium in Uchila should be made available to members of all communities. But one particular community was not allowing the cremation of other communities there.

The development of 1.56 acre crematorium was taken up at a cost of ₹17 lakh in the village about 12 years back. But when the work was nearly 85% complete, the members of a particular community approached the court and got a stay order, he said.

After the stay order, the district administration became silent. Despite the stay order being in force, a road had been constructed in it. There was no other facility for cremating the dead in the village, Mr. Sundar said.

Mr. Isaak told the protesters that since the matter was in the court, the cremation could not be done there. The cremation of the deceased could be done in nearby Belapu or Kaup. But they remained unmoved.

Finally, Additional Deputy Commissioner Sadashiva Prabhu rushed to the spot and assured to look into the matter concerning the disputed land. After this assurance, the cremation of the deceased was done near his house at Mullagudde.

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