61 residents in Chhattisgarh village died of 'unknown' illness in couple of years, claim locals

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Atul Sarma was forced to live a socially isolated life for 27 years, and the ostracization continued to be in effect even after his death.

Sarma (65) died at his residence on Tuesday but his family was compelled to bury the dead body instead of consigning it to flames due to alleged non-cooperation from the villagers, the police said.

The incident took place in a village in Darrang district of northern Assam. Sarma’s crime? He had married a woman outside his caste. The family has been allegedly left to remain socially-isolated in the village for the past 27 years.

After the incident came to light, the police picked up a man for allegedly instigating villagers not to take part in Sarma’s cremation. “We have picked up one person. Different stories have emerged as regards his role. We are investigating the issue,” Darrang Superintendent of Police Raj Mohan Roy told this newspaper.

Officials of the district administration visited the family of the deceased on Friday and helped it perform the last rites as per Hindu rituals after the body was exhumed in the presence of a magistrate. An autopsy was also conducted before that. Sarma’s only son is employed in Punjab. Pranita Devi, the widow of the deceased, said she and her daughter were relieved that the body was eventually consigned to flames.

“We wanted his dead body to be cremated according to Hindu rituals. After his death, I had called the people of the village. They came over but refused to take part in the cremation as I don’t belong to his community. So, we were forced to bury the body,” the woman said.

A brother of the deceased and two other relatives had to conduct the burial by the side of a river.  The leaders of some social organisations, who visited the house on Friday, condemned the incident. “It is unfortunate that the family suffered for 27 years because Atul Sarma married a woman outside his caste. The man died but people did not come forward to perform the last rites. Where is humanity?” a leader of one of the organisations lamented. 

GUWAHATI: Atul Sarma was forced to live a socially isolated life for 27 years, and the ostracization continued to be in effect even after his death.

Sarma (65) died at his residence on Tuesday but his family was compelled to bury the dead body instead of consigning it to flames due to alleged non-cooperation from the villagers, the police said.

The incident took place in a village in Darrang district of northern Assam. Sarma’s crime? He had married a woman outside his caste. The family has been allegedly left to remain socially-isolated in the village for the past 27 years.

After the incident came to light, the police picked up a man for allegedly instigating villagers not to take part in Sarma’s cremation. “We have picked up one person. Different stories have emerged as regards his role. We are investigating the issue,” Darrang Superintendent of Police Raj Mohan Roy told this newspaper.

Officials of the district administration visited the family of the deceased on Friday and helped it perform the last rites as per Hindu rituals after the body was exhumed in the presence of a magistrate. An autopsy was also conducted before that. Sarma’s only son is employed in Punjab. Pranita Devi, the widow of the deceased, said she and her daughter were relieved that the body was eventually consigned to flames.

“We wanted his dead body to be cremated according to Hindu rituals. After his death, I had called the people of the village. They came over but refused to take part in the cremation as I don’t belong to his community. So, we were forced to bury the body,” the woman said.

A brother of the deceased and two other relatives had to conduct the burial by the side of a river.  The leaders of some social organisations, who visited the house on Friday, condemned the incident. “It is unfortunate that the family suffered for 27 years because Atul Sarma married a woman outside his caste. The man died but people did not come forward to perform the last rites. Where is humanity?” a leader of one of the organisations lamented.