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`Death money` custom causing law and order in Rajasthan

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 18:31

Jaipur: Rajasthan Police are probing if a recent case of arson in Pratapgarh district is a fallout of the tribal system of collecting "death money" from a person causing someone`s death and resorting to protests and even violence if it is not paid, officials said Tuesday.

The "Mautana" tradition, literally the "death money", prevalent in Rajasthan`s Mewar region covering Pratapgarh, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand and Udaipur districts, has created serious law and order situations recently, they said.
The house and shop of Manish at Lakhya Phanta village of Pratapgarh were set ablaze March 7 by the family of Gautam Meena who was killed Feb 6 in an accident allegedly caused a family member of Manish, Pratapgarh Police circle officer Surendra Singh Bhati told IANS.

Elders of the village had fixed the `mautana` compensation amount Manish was to pay to Gautam`s family, Bhati said.

The money is paid by the family of the person who is considered responsible for causing the death by an accident, inducing suicide attempt, dowry harassment and even by denial of proper and timely treatment of an ailment.

The tribal communities of the area, including Meenas and Bhils, also indulge in another tradition called "Chanotara" if `mautana` compensation is not paid, the officials added.

According to the tradition, the family of the deceased person takes revenge on the accused and his/her family by setting ablaze their house, beating them up or placing the deceased`s body in front of their house till the compensation is paid.
"Manish says when he did not pay the money, Gautam`s family members set his house and shop on fire. He alleges that they robbed many items from his house before the arson. Manish has registered a complaint with the police. We are investigating the matter," Bhati said.

In Ambamata police station area of Udaipur recently, the family members of 20-year old married woman Narmada, who died of an illness, placed her body in front of her in-law`s house and only agreed to remove it from there when a `mautana` amount of Rs.100,000 was paid to them, said a police officer.

In yet another incident, tension flared up in Japa village of Dungarpur district when a 40-year-old man was beaten to death and his family members went on a rampage demanding `mautana` money, said a police officer.

He added that the body was cremated only when the accused man`s family members paid the compensation.


First Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 18:31

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