A tribal man in Odisha’s Neemuch was forced to collect waste paper, tyres and plastic bags to cremate his wife, after he was turned away by the crematorium for lack of money. Numbed by his wife's death and the callousness of the panchayat, Jagdeesh Bhil spent three hours collecting garbage for the pyre – with the resignation that a lifetime of neglect can bring.
The incidence took place in Odisha’s Ratangarh village, According to reports the Panchayat reportedly denied permission to Jagdeesh to use the crematorium as he could not pay the required Rs 2,500.
During the hectic hours, many of the passers-by came forward with several suggestions to dispose the body, with one of them even suggesting that they throw the body into the river. But no one offered help.
Ironically, Jagdeesh’s wife spent her life gathering wood from the jungle to make a living. With no way of amassing the required amount of rags, family and friends decided to bury the body. "We were going to start digging her grave when we were approached by a social worker. He helped us collect scattered wooden blocks and other items with which we cremated her," Jagdeesh reportedly said.
It was five in the evening, after he conducted funeral proceedings and cremation was almost done, when the authorities sent logs of wood for the cremation after getting wind of the incident. Expressing regret over the incident, Neemuch District collector Rajneesh Shrivastava said that action has been taken against those responsible.
The incident happened 10 days ago, but came to light on Sunday. In a shocking case of apathy, last week, a tribal man had to walk 10 km carrying his wife’s body on his shoulder in Odisha’s Kalahandi after failing to get a vehicle from a government hospital. In another case, a worker at a government hospital in Odisha broke the bones of an old woman’s dead body and stuffed it in a bag as there was no ambulance to carry the corpse to the railway station.