No pathway, final journey of the dead in Tiruchy village is through ‘highway to hell’

The existing path, through paddy fields, is owned by private players who prohibit entry, forcing the kin of the deceased to seek police protection to cremate their loved ones.
 Residents of Devarmalalai in Tiruchy carrying a body through a paddy field
Residents of Devarmalalai in Tiruchy carrying a body through a paddy field Photo | Express

TIRUCHY: Pall-bearers carrying a body in a procession through paddy fields with policemen in uniforms offering protection. This has been a common sight in Devarmalai of the district for the past three years due to lack of a proper pathway to the cremation ground.

Unsure how long the practice has been in existence owing to the absence of a dedicated road to the crematorium, villagers simply call it “a very long time”. The existing path, through paddy fields, is owned by private players who prohibit entry, forcing kin of the deceased to seek police protection to cremate their loved ones.

Residents of the village in Pidaramangalam panchayat, which falls under Thottiyam taluk, have been submitting petitions to officials at every level - panchayat, district and state - but to no avail. They have now threatened to surrender their Aadhaar and ration cards and the benefits that come along with it if the issue is not resolved within a month.

“We had petitioned the local administration and adopted a resolution during the grama sabha in October 2022. Revenue officials were also instructed by the district administration to construct a pathway,” said P Murugesan, a ward member, who says he has knocked on the doors of at least 50 officials. “We carry the deceased through paddy fields, leading to altercation with the landowners.

Then we approach the police and with the support of police personnel and revenue officials we walk towards the cremation ground,” he added.

Meanwhile, another resident said management of a temple, located on the pathway, prohibits the villagers from carrying the dead or firewood to be used for cremation. “Our own people are discriminating against us and treating us like outsiders. Land is available to build a pathway, if not we will surrender our Aadhaar and ration cards,” she said.

When contacted, a taluk-level revenue official told TNIE that a parcel of land has been identified a few metres away from the temple. “Ground-level officers have been instructed to carry out necessary work. We have assured the petitioners that action will be taken.”

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