In a shocking incident in Odisha’s remote village of Baipali, the grief-stricken daughters were inflicted more pains by the villagers, who refused to take part in the cremation of their mother.
That’s because the deceased’s husband once suffered from leprosy and had died many years ago. Left with no option, the two daughters were forced to carry their mother’s body on a cot to perform cremation.
The incident took place in Baipali village of Sohela Block of Bargarh on Monday.
The deceased, a 70-year-woman, Dei Pradhan, had died on Monday and the repeated pleas by daughters for help from the neighbours elicited no response while the dead body lay in the house all throughout the day.
In the end, it was up to Chandrakanti (35), her husband and younger sister Rechi (30) to carry the dead body to the cremation ground even though at least four people are required to carry the body as part of the tradition.
According to Newsfast TV in Odisha, the Sarapanch Swarnakanti Sarapanch was informed but she too didn’t come for the distraught family’s help.
Leprosy is considered a taboo in Odisha and West Bengal. There are many examples of lepers being pushed out of their houses for the fear that others too may suffer from the disease.
Many Christian missionaries have been working in the tribal areas of Odisha towards rehabilitation of these lepers.
But, these missionaries have often fallen victim to the violence of the right-wing Hindutva groups, who accused them of promoting religious conversion.
In 1999, the Australian missionary Graham Staines was burnt alive along with his two children Philip (6) and Timothy (4) in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district.
Their killer was Bajrang Dal’s Dara Singh, who’s now serving life term.