iconimg Saturday, April 25, 2015

Aditya Nath Jha, Hindustan Times
Purnia, July 14, 2014
A 17-year-old girl and her family have been boycotted by residents of a village in Bihar's Purnea district after she went against prevalent custom and lit her father's funeral pyre. Traditionally the last rites are performed by a male member of the family. On Saturday, Shalini undertook the same duties in the presence of the police and family members, thereby angering many in her village, who warned of dire consequences if anybody from the area took part in the rituals.

"We are living under threat ever since I lit my father's funeral pyre," Shalini said. "The villagers stopped everybody from attending the rites of my father."

Shalini said she would write to the district magistrate and the superintendent of police seeking protection for her family and assistance in facilitating the rituals.

According to Shalini, the threats are a ploy to deprive her of paternal property. "(But) this is my constitutional right and I will not forego it," she added.

Earlier on Friday evening, Ajay Kumar Yadav, 50, a resident of Maranga, died after a prolonged illness. He is survived by his wife Meera Kumari Sinha, 45, an anganwadi worker, and two daughters, Rohini, 20, and Shalini.

Shalini came forward to perform her father's last rites, as she has no brother. Getting wind of her decision, the villagers became adamant on stopping her.

"When our own uncles' family turned into our greatest enemy, we informed the police and are thankful for their help," said Rohini, who was married a year ago.

Maranga station house officer Lalan Paswan said, "The police will provide all possible help to the family and take legal action against those found guilty of threatening or creating problems for them."