Vellore: A video of members of the Dalit community in Narayanapuram village, Vaniyambadi, Vellore district lowering the mortal remains of a fellow villager from atop a bridge to a river bank for cremation, using ropes, has gone viral and shocked scores of viewers, but it has also elicited action from the district administration. According to district officials, it has been immediately decided to allocate 50 cents government land for a crematorium, pending further approvals.
Kuppan, 55 who was working as a manual laborer in a brick kiln died in a road accident on Friday, and when his kith and kin were to cremate the mortal remains and perform the last rites, they had to resort to lowering the body from atop the Arasalanthapuram-Narayanapuram Bridge to the banks of the Palar river, to avoid carrying the body through agricultural land that is allegedly owned by members of the Vanniyar caste.
It is said that the villagers had been raising demands for a crematorium, but as it had fallen on deaf ears for over a year, the video was circulated to show the plight of over 50 families living in the Dalit Colony.
Kuppan’s nephew, Vijay told WION that the family had first considered burying the body in a nearby parcel of land, but couldn’t do so as there were rocks at a meagre two-feet depth. When it came to cremating the mortal remains, they decided to lower the body from the bridge, as was earlier followed by members of their community. It is said that in the past when the Dalits carried the mortal remains of one of their own via certain strips of land, the owners who belonged to the Vanniyar community had allegedly objected and caused issues. Since then the Dalit community had refrained from taking that route.
Kuppan is survived by his wife Kasturi, a daughter and two sons.
The video that started circulating on messaging platform and social media since Sunday is said to have caught the attention of local administration officials and their higher-ups. “The revenue team has discussed and decided to allocate 50 cents 'poromboke land' that comes under survey number 24 for a crematorium in the area. In the coming days, once the proposal is approved by the Sub-collector and other district officials such as the Block Development Officer, we can expect the crematorium to be ready in a maximum of two months time” Murugan, Tehsildar of Vaniyambadi Taluk” told WION.