Members of the community say like caste-based gurdwaras, separate crematoriums in villages speak volumes of the existing caste discrimination
Socially marginalised mazhabi Sikh community in Punjab is hoping the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to take steps to discourage the tradition of caste-based crematoriums in the villages of the state.
Members of the community say like caste-based gurdwaras, separate crematoriums in villages speak volumes of the existing caste discrimination.
Gurtej Singh, 56, from Jhmuba village said his village has separate crematoriums for mazhabi Sikhs and another for the rest of the communities.
“Dominant castes do not mind hiring us for works at their fields and even homes. But when it comes to death, we are reminded of our caste. It is unfortunate that caste-biased cremation grounds are still accepted as a rural custom. The government should intervene and insist panchayats for common crematoriums,” he said.
Daily wager Kewal Singh, 35, of Bathinda’s Jangi Rana village said the members of ‘vehre wale’, a term commonly used to denote mazhabi Sikhs, are not barred to visit shrines or attending funerals at other crematoriums meant for other castes, but in death, we see discrimination through the caste-based cremation grounds.
Sunny Singh, 22, from Jawaharke village in Mansa, who is working as a clerk with an arthiya, said the dominant caste may not be calling them untouchables but the separate cremation grounds hint at the unsaid reality.
The community wants the AAP government in the state to take measures to discourage the tradition of maintaining caste-based cremation grounds in the villages of Punjab and promote use of common crematoriums.
Responding to a question raised by AAP MLA from Payal Manwinder Singh Giaspura during the recent assembly session, the rural development and panchayat minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal informed the house that 80% villages of Punjab have two or more cremation grounds.
Giaspura told HT that as respective state governments failed to ensure a common crematorium for all communities, elected representatives from the oppressed castes are to be blamed for not working in this direction.