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Neighbours apologise for not cooperating with ‘ostracised’ family during last rites

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MANGALDAI, Aug 14: Five days after a woman was forced to bury her husband’s body instead of consigning it to flames, due to alleged non-cooperation from villagers in Assam’s Darrang district, the locals have tendered an apology to the family, the village headman said on Sunday.

The authorities helped the family cremate the body as per Hindu rituals on Friday after exhuming the body in the presence of a magistrate.

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The body of Umesh Sharma, about 65 years of age, was initially buried near his residence in Patalsingpara, under Mangaldai Police Station, in Darrang district.

The villagers maintained that the decision to let the body be buried was taken as per prevailing customs, and admitted that it was “not in keeping with the times”, the headman said.

Talking to PTI, headman Bhupen Barua said, “The people of the ‘suburi’ (neighbourhood) on Saturday held a meeting, at the initiative of Mangaldai MLA Basanta Das. They apologised at the end of the meeting for such an incident.”

The people went to Sharma’s residence after the meeting and gave an assurance that they will cooperate with the family in all other rituals, Barua said.

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Pranjal Sharma, the couple’s son, said, “The villagers have now come forward for our help. Let’s see how it progresses.”

Pranjal, who was away at the time of the incident, could not return before his father’s body was buried on Tuesday.

He later claimed that his parents had been socially ostracised ever since their marriage about 27 years ago as his mother belonged to a ‘lower caste’.

The deceased’s wife, Pranita Devi, claimed that the family has been facing ostracisation ever since her marriage.

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“We can only hope that things will get better now. I have already lost my husband. But at least, I have his ashes now and the rituals will be followed. This is my only consolation,” she added.

In a letter, signed by 18 villagers of the ‘suburi’, they maintained that the decision to bury the body was as per “prevailing customs”.

“We have learnt that as the decision has hurt the sentiments of a section of society, who deemed that it was not in keeping with the times, we express our regret over it,” the letter said.

The local people appreciated the initiative by organisations led by All Assam Koch Rajbonshi Sanmilani and the administration to cremate the body.

“In the end, we apologise to everyone for the unintentional mistake,” the letter added.

Representatives of the Koch-Rajbonshi community, to which Sarma’s wife belonged, had visited the family and demanded action against the villagers who had ostracised the family.

All Koch-Rajbonshi Students’ Union’s vice-president Nabajit Koch and general secretary Bhaben Rajbonshi, said the situation has improved after the public apology.

“We hope everyone learns a lesson from the incident and such incidents are not repeated,” the two leaders said. (PTI)

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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