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Odisha Crematorium Drops Brahmin Tag

KENDRAPADA: The 154-year-old Kendrapada municipality on Tuesday changed the name of ‘Brahmin Samsan’ to ‘Swargadwar’ in Hazaribagicha locality of Kendrapada town after TOI carried a report the previous day titled ‘Brahmin-only crematorium in Odisha district sparks row’.

The authorities swung into action on Tuesday after many locals and Dalit leaders criticised the civic body in Kendrapada district for running a crematorium for only Brahmins.

“The civic body on Tuesday erased the name ‘Brahmin Samsan’ and wrote ‘Swargadwar’ in its place. All Hindus are now entitled to perform last rites of their kin in this crematorium. We will take legal action if anyone prevents anybody from cremating bodies here,” said Prafulla Chandra Biswal, executive officer of Kendrapada municipality.

Additional district magistrate Nilu Mohapatra said the civic body was directed to change the name of the crematorium and allow all Hindus to perform the last rites of their kin. A delegation of Odisha Dalit Samaj had demanded that the ADM take necessary steps to allow all Hindus irrespective of caste to cremate bodies in the crematorium and change its name.

“It is a victory for us as the authorities changed the name of the crematorium,” said Nagendra Jena, a Dalit leader and president of the distinct unit of Odisha Dalit Samaj.

A Brahmin of Hazaribagicha said on condition of anonymity, “In the 1930 Record of Right, it was recorded as Brahmin Samsan as some Brahmins had donated their land for this crematorium. But after Independence, this cremation ground was acquired by the civic body. The government in the past donated money for its renovation. We welcome the decision of the government to allow all people to use this crematorium for last rites.”

In 2019, the Madras high court had criticized the Tamil Nadu government for allocating a separate cremation ground for Dalits in a village. “The court said providing a separate crematorium for Dalits meant encouraging caste inequality,” said Pradipta Gochayat, a Kendrapada-based lawyer.

Source: The Times of India