Ahmedabad: Demanding justice, the kin of a 45-year-old tribal from Gujarat's Sabarkantha district has refused to perform his last rites and preserved the dead body for over 60 days. Jiva Bhumbariya's body was found at a secluded spot near Magwas village in December.
Even though police investigations into Jiva's death concluded that he died in an accident, his family members have disputed this version, saying Jiva was murdered by three persons with whom he had a dispute over the payment of tractor rent. "My brother Jiva was living in Magwas village of Banaskantha. He was murdered by three persons following a dispute over the payment of tractor rent about two months back," said Jiva's brother Navji Bhumbariya, at whose place in Chikhla village the embalmed body has been kept wrapped in plastic sheets inside a box.
Jiva, according to his brother, had bought a tractor on loan and used to plough field of others to earn living. "We had filed a police complaint. But after investigation, Banaskantha police concluded it to be an accidental death. After postmortem, we have kept his (Jiva's) body at home in a box. We want justice for my late brother", Bhumariya said.
According to him, police have recorded the statement of Jiva's daughter. When contacted, Sabarkantha District Collector Shahmeena Hussain said it was the custom among some tribal communities to delay the last rites in such cases.
"A tribal had died in an accident in Banaskantha district. Police had investigated and concluded it to be an accidental death. Amongst the tribal families here there is a practice that unless samadhaan (settlement) takes place, they do not cremate the body," she said, adding that the case is being looked into and the administration is hopeful of breaking the impasse.
When contacted, Banaskantha SP Ashok Yadav said, "Police are verifying the allegations levelled by the tribal family and carrying out further investigations". On the demand of the tribal family for justice, the SP said, "The practise in the tribal families of not carrying out last rites of the body unless 'samadhaan' (settlement) is reached is the reason behind the delay in cremation".
Tribal-dominated Sabarkantha district has a significant population of Bhil and Dungri Garasia tribes.