Odisha man unable to cremate wife as community ‘refuses help’
Local police in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district on Friday recovered a woman’s body which could not be cremated for three days because community members refused to participate in the last rites.Villagers belonging to Santhal tribe at Kuchei village under the Kuliana police station limits allegedly insisted that the husband, Kandra Soren, pay an old ‘society penalty’ before allowing anyone to assist him in the cremation. The penalty that included a goat, three chickens, 15 kg of rice and two pots of country liquor was imposed on the family of Kandra Soren because his father had married outside the clan decades ago. Mr. Soren had himself married Parbati allegedly defying the Santhal tribe’s tradition under which the groom’s family must gift a cow or bullock to the bride’s family at the time of marriage. His was a love marriage and he had not given any gift. Mr. Soren, a daily wager, had expressed his inability to pay the penalty to the community and to his in-laws. As a result, he received help from neither of them.Parbati Soren had died of unspecified illness on August 14. “Despite repeatedly assuring them that I will pay the fine later, the community members refused to budge,” said Mr. Soren.“We have sent the body for post-mortem,” said Kamalakanta Das, Inspector-in-Charge of Kuliana police station. “We are trying to find out if he is facing a social boycott.”Odisha’s Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Sudam Marndi, who hails from Mayurbhanj district, was reportedly asked to pay a society fee after his daughter married outside the tribe in 2016. The Minister is also said to have faced ‘boycott’ from his tribe.