Denied access to burial ground, SCs in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh threaten to change religion
Nearly 150 Scheduled Caste (SC) members of Huneti village in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand have threatened to change their religion if they are not provided with burial rights at a 0.96 hectare traditional land.
The families have alleged that members of the so-called upper castes are objecting to providing a route, and the ground. The SC villagers submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate (DM) on Saturday.
“We will be compelled to change our religion if the government won’t provide us a proper route to our traditional burial land, which is opposed by upper caste people,” said Arjun Ram, an SC villager in Huneti.
Under the Member of Legislative Assembly Local Area Development (MLALAD) scheme, ₹1.5 lakh was provided to the local administration for construction of the cremation ground. However, people belonging to the “upper castes” refused to provide passage, and the ground.
“It is discrimination by upper caste people, who are not allowing the passage and also the rights to the land, where we have traditional burial rights. We will be forced to change our religion if the government won’t provide us the rights,” said Rakesh Kohli, another villager who was among those who handed the memorandum to the DM.
Bhagwan Singh, a social worker in the area advocates the demand. “The onus is on the government and district administration to convince the upper caste villagers not to disturb the religious sentiments of the SC villagers in the area.”
SK Pandey, Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Pithoragarh said that the land has already been identified by the administration for the construction of a permanent tin shed, meant for burial rituals of SC community residing in Haneti village.
“We have prepared the spot report on the matter, which will be submitted and a decision will be taken by the DM,” he said.
Pithoragarh district magistrate C Ravishankar said he was “yet to see the report”, and therefore “can’t comment on the issue right now”.
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