Bringing in a glimmer of hope in the day and age of caste and religious divide, a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Rengali performed the last rites of an old woman, who was ostracised by her community, in Amnapali village of Jharsuguda district. The deceased woman, who earned a living by begging, was staying with her brother-in-law. However, the latter was unable to perform the last rights of the woman on account of health issues. With family member unable to perform rituals and fear of ostracisation of other members of community after performing the last rites of a woman from a lower caste, the MLA, Ramesh Patua, stepped forward to be deceased’s pall-bearer, and helped perform last rites along with his son and nephew. According to a practice in the village, if a person touches the body of someone from another caste, he is ostracised by his own community. Therefore, I sent my son and nephew to take the body to the burial ground and joined them to perform the last rites,” he said. Along with the help of a group of men, the legislator lowered the body of the deceased woman into the ground, after which the men were seen filling the grave with sand. It may be noted that Patua, who performed the last rites of a woman from Jharsuguda district, was elected from Rengali in Sambalpur district.
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