Refused a cremation site, Bihar villager forced to bury wife in backyard

Patna: A poor, landless villager in Bihar buried his wife at home, after villagers prevented him from cremating the body on their land.

The incident took place at Kewatgama village in Madhepura district, some 290 kilometres north of Patna, on Tuesday.

Officials said Sohagiya Devi, 35, died of diarrhoea on Monday night. Her family then carried her body to a local cremation site used by villagers, but were not granted permission to use it.

Her grieving husband, Rishideo, then requested other villagers in the neighbourhood to allow him to cremate his wife on their land, but was again rejected. Left with no option, the hapless man carried the body back home and buried her in his backyard.

“I had to bury her in my home, since no one let me cremate her on their land. I have no other land, except for this small piece on which my mud-built house stands,” Rishideo told the media on Wednesday.

He said he begged every villager, but none showed mercy. “I had no option other than giving her (body) shelter in my home,” he said.

Local village council chief Rita Devi said she was writing a letter to the district administration authorities, to arrange for land for cremating the dead. “I am sending a request very soon,” Devi said. The local circle officer, Jai Prakash Rai, said after he receives the letter, prompt action would be taken.

According to a study conducted by a prominent Left party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), some 60.74 per cent families living in Bihar state’s rural areas are landless and grossly deprived of human development indicators.

The survey, released by CPI-ML General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya in the presence of CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat and CPI national Secretary Atul Anjan in 2014, encompasses over 200,000 rural and 6,634 urban families spread over 23 out of the state’s 38 districts.

The report further stated that an estimated 36.61 per cent of surveyed families were indebted to private money lenders, with the average loan amount pegged at Rs34,346 per family. They are forced to pay interest as high as 60- to 120 per cent per annum, and at times, the indebted families had to work for free for moneylenders, the report claimed.

Among the surveyed families, 44.69 per cent belonged to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes categories, 24.31% were from Extremely Backward Castes, 15.76 per cent were Other Backward Castes, 11.45 per cent minorities, and the remaining 3.78 per cent from other castes and classes.


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