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BJD MLA performs last rites of poor woman

Author: Satyasundar Barik
Publication: The Hindu
Date: August 4, 2018
URL:      https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mla-performs-last-rites-of-poor-woman/article24597578.ece/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

BJD leader ropes in son, nephew as villagers stay away

A legislator, his son and nephew performed the last rites of a destitute woman after no villager came forward for her funeral fearing ostracisation in Odisha’s Jharsuguda district.

Ramesh Patua, MLA from Rengali constituency, decided to perform the woman's last rites after the local police informed him that no one from Amanapali village under Chudamal gram panchayat was ready to touch her body.

The woman, a beggar, lived with her ailing brother-in-law and survived on leftovers from community feasts. Her caste was unknown to the villagers.

Ostracisation fears

“It did not take me much time to understand why nobody was coming forward for the last rites of the deceased. [According to a practice in the village] If a person touches a body belonging to another caste, he is ostracised by his own community. As I was away from the spot, I sent two youngsters from my family to take the body to the burial ground,” said Mr. Patua, who was elected on a BJD ticket.

Amanapali is 2 km from Loida, Mr. Patua’s village in Sambalpur district. Although Amanapali is in Jharsguda constituency, the Rengali MLA did not show any hesitation in attending to the crisis. “I thought the two youngsters may not be able to handle the situation, so I rushed to the spot. We brought four bamboo poles and prepared a bier to carry the body. Since I did not want any controversy by tinkering with the existing beliefs, we took the body to the ground and performed the last rites,” the MLA said.

While most of the rituals were performed according to Hindu beliefs, the body was buried as there was not much time to arrange for a cremation, the MLA said. The woman's relative was too unwell to participate in the funeral.

Mr. Patua, one of the poorest MLAs in Odisha, does not have enough land and still stays in a rented house.
 
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