UMERKOTE: In a bizarre incident, a 70-year-old man, who converted to Christianity five years back, was awaiting cremation 24 hours after his death in Odisha’s Nabarangpur district because no community would allegedly give space for funeral.
The incident was reported from Gulibodon village in Jharigaon block. Source said, Jitru Bhatra died on Friday morning and soon a controversy erupted over his funeral. While the Hindu community refused space in its cremation grounds, the Christians also did the same as his name was not registered with the church.
The villagers had urged Jitru to re-convert to Hinduism but the latter did not relent. He was from the sole Christian family in the village. The village does not have a Christian cemetery and locals did not allow space for funeral in cremation ground of Hindu community.Till the report was filed, the stalemate continued and the body was shifted to Umerkote community health centre (CHC) morgue.
The locals asked the local administration to shift the 70-year-old’s body elsewhere for cremation. When informed, Jharigaon tehsildar Chinmaya Sagar and Umerkote IIC Deepak Kumar Jena rushed to the village and held discussions with the locals who remained adamant on their demand.
Finding no other alternative, the administration allotted a site near Gulibodona for Jitru’s funeral but the solution led to more problems as along with hundreds of residents of Gulibodona, those from neighbouring Niropodor and Gobri villages rushed to the site and prevented the burial. Left in a spot, the local officials shifted Jitru’s body to the morgue on Saturday evening.
As Jitru had not registered his name with the JELC Church at Umerkote, his body was also not allowed to be buried at the Christian graveyard here. Sagar said a decision on the site where Jitru’s body shall be cremated will be taken on Sunday.
Nabarangpur additional district magistrate (ADM) Bhaskar Raito said another place for will be allotted on Sunday for burial. Senior officers will reach remain present to manage the situation, he added.This is not the first such incident reported from the district. Last month, family members of a 32-year-old woman blocked State Highway-39 after they were denied her burial at the local cemetery.
The deceased Pushpanjali Bagh, a resident of Dongri street in Nabarangpur town, had recently converted to Christianity and did not have her name registered in the JELC church.Family members alleged that the local Christians do not allow the burial of those who did not register themselves at the church.
Nabarangpur Christians Minority secretary Gourab Kaunri informed that there was no cemetery for converted Christians.