A resident of Surat district’s Ena village who belonged to the tribal Halapati community was booked for cremating his father on the main village street, after the crematorium managers refused permission for the same without payment of the full fee. At the same time, the death of another man from the same community led to tension in the area.
The hostility between the Halapatis and the upper caste members of the village began on Tuesday when Mohankumar Rathod, 45, a farm labourer, died. His son Shiv and other family members approached Dharmik Maisurya of Ena Yuvak Mandal, which runs the crematorium and were told that the charges were raised from Rs 1,100 to Rs 2,500.
Village sources told The Indian Express that Shiv, also a farm labourer, told Maisurya that he did not have enough money but the latter refused to waive the charge.
Later, Shiv and other community members brought wooden logs from nearby shops and cremated his father’s body on the main road. Several non-Halapati residents took photos and posted them on social media.
One resident, Yagnik Thakor, lodged a complaint at Palsana police station against Shiv Rathod saying the funeral at a public place “hurt his religious sentiments”.
On Wednesday, another Halapati farm worker, Mahesh Rathod (40), died. A large number of community members reached the crematorium where they entered into a heated exchange with non-Halpatis from the village, majority of them Patidars, over cremation charges.
Palsana police reached the spot and talked to the family members of the deceased and to Ena Yuvak Mandal committee members, following which keys were given to the family to do the last rites at the crematorium.
After the cremation, Palsana police called a meeting of Halapati community leaders and Ena Yuvak Mandal committee members and a compromise was reached, as per which cremation fees would be waived for Halapati community, provided the family of the deceased brings the wood for cremation. After the cremation, they should also clean the area.
Palsana sub-inspector C M Gadhvi said, “Situation is under control… The villagers agreed to the compromise. We have registered an offence for cremating a dead body at a public place and will take after investigation.”