Thursday, October 04, 2007

Defiled by Dalit's touch, Muslims perform Hindu man's last rites

'Defiled' by a Dalit's touch, the relatives of Rameshwar refused to cremate him. For three days the body kept lying in wait for the funeral.

At last, Muslims in the town (Khandwa) that is yet to recover from the recent riot, came forward to perform the last rites of the elderly man. Rameshwar's kin said that they could not perform his last rites because Dalits ('sweepers') had touched it.
And if somebody touches a 'polluted' body, he also gets polluted, said the community leader. For getting cleansed the person then has to embark on a pilgrimage.

Also, the community fines such people who touch a 'defiled' body. Rameshwar, a Gond, had died in a road accident on September 29.

On Gandhi Jayanti, the body was still waiting for funeral. Despite administration trying hard to convince his family members to perform the funeral, nobody was willing to do it. Muslims decided to come forward. The local Muslim society leader Ahmad Patel offered to cremate as per the Sanatan traditions.

However, the deceased's family insisted that he should be buried. (There is custom in several Hindu communities to bury their dead). And the Muslims conducted the last rites. All this happened in Khandwa town in Madhya Pradesh, which had witnessed a communal clash only recently and the normaly hadn't returned completely in the town.