Jabalpur, Aug 26 (IANS) Some people in a village here on Friday carried a woman’s body for cremation through chest-deep water in a pond. They said they were forced to do so as upper caste people refused to let them pass through their field, but the administration has said the villagers “created a scene” perhaps to highlight a grievance.
TV channels on Friday showed a funeral procession in a village in this district of Madhya Pradesh wading through chest-high water.
At least two of these channels compared this report with the widely telecast visuals of a tribal man in Odisha having to carry his wife’s body on his shoulders after failing to get any conveyance from the hospital where she died.
Some news reports even hinted that members of the “weaker community” were forced to take the funeral procession through the chest-deep pond water because the “dominant community” or caste refused to let it pass through their field.
This, the reports said, was an “atrocity” committed on the weaker community.
After taking note of the TV visuals, Jabalpur District Magistrate Mahendra Chandra Chaudhary told reporters he was inquiring into the incident which took place in Behar village of Panagar tehsil (sub-district).
The mourners were taking for cremation the body of Kantibai, 70, a woman belonging to Patel community which is an Other Backward Class (OBC) in Madhya Pradesh. She died on Thursday.
Chaudhary later said his inquiry showed that the funeral procession being taken through pond water was clearly a “created scene”.
He said he found that the thoroughfare to the cremation ground was indeed flooded with 3-4 feet deep water, but other approaches to the cremation ground were clear of water.
“There is a clearly passable path along a farm that the mourners actually used to carry wood and cowdung cakes to the cremation ground, but they chose the flooded street to carry the body through,” Chaudhary said.
“And it was quite convenient for someone to shoot the scene and for TV channels to telecast the scene and show it as some kind of atrocity,” he added.
IANS learnt after speaking with informed sources in Behar village that the villagers in fact wanted to highlight the long neglected problem of an unpaved street.
So when Kantibai died, they used her funeral procession to make a hard hitting statement — with help from TV channels.
The sources in the village said they had also lodged a written complaint with the tehsildar of the administration to get the street paved.
While a TV news channel drew parallel with the Odisha tribal carrying his wife’s body on his shoulders over 10 km, another highlighted the “indignity” of a corpse being carried through a “dirty pond” and blamed it on a “sand mafia” having “blocked the main route leading to the cremation ground”.
Meanwhile, Panagar legislator Sushil Tiwari said the administration would soon provide a proper road to the cremation ground.