They do not dispose of relative’s dead body to extort money

motanaDeath’s ransom Montanna tradition has becomes a means of extortion as montanna, a tribal compensatory measure to help the family of a person killed in unusual circumstances, is grossly misused in Rajasthan and Gujarat

It could have been a scene from a period film. Two thousand men, women, teenagers and children of Semlia village in Gujarat armed with bows and arrows, axes, small boulders and spears gathered on the banks of a tributary of the Sabarmati that separates Gujarat from Rajasthan near Kotra block in Udaipur district.

This, however, was no film but a disturbing social custom. The “invaders” belonged to the Gamar caste and were staging the invasion (known locally as charotra) to exact compensation for the death of Deepu Gamar, a girl from their village who married into the Pargi community in Gau Pipla village in Udaipur district.

Deepu’s body was found hanging from a tree in circumstances which police said clearly indicated suicide. The Semlia villagers said since she died in the custody of her in-laws, the entire Pargi community of the village should pay them Rs 70,000 in compensation, or montanna (money for the dead).

Macabre Intent: A meeting around a body to settle compensation

Even as Deepu’s body continued to hang from the tree, the Gamars clashed with the police party that came to end a two-day-long standoff over the montanna that ended with the burning and looting of 19 houses of Gau Pipla village.

The Gamars even attacked the India Today team that reached the spot after their battle with the police. After the attack on Gau Pipla, negotiations were held in the presence of the police of Gujarat and Rajasthan and the Pargis were told to pay Rs 4 lakh to Semlia’s Gamars.

The Rajasthan Government paid Rs 1 lakh to the family of a Semlia villager killed in police firing. Until they pay the montanna, the Pargis cannot venture into any Gamar-dominated area.

Montanna, originally a custom designed to help the family of a person killed in unusual circumstances, has assumed such violent proportions that police heads in the tribal districts of Banswara, Dungarpur and Udaipur list it as a major law and order problem.

Supporters of the montanna system and musclemen who lead invasions and act as judges have succeeded in creating a demand for compensation for just about any unnatural death. Might and greed, not logic, rule here, as evidenced by the following incidents.

Bhikha Gamar Agreed to pay Rs 70,000 to the Bhumria community of his mother’s brother after she fell to death in a well.

Katrua Vadera of Upri Sikri village sold off his field to pay montanna of Rs 70,000 after his daughter-in-law Nilri died in childbirth. The logic extended was that her husband had got her pregnant, leading to her death.

Bhikha Gamar had to agree to pay Rs 70,000 to Mandwa village’s Bhumria community of his mother’s brother after she fell to death in a well.

Savita, who hailed from Arjunpura village, died of snakebite at her in-laws’ village of Ruziakhana. Her in-laws had to pay Rs 10,000 to her parents.

Bheema’s child Kudal Gamar of Paba threw a stone at Makara Pargi’s son. He died of fever two weeks later but the cause was attributed to the earlier incident, though logically there was no connection. Makara sought and got Rs 60,000 in compensation.

Worryingly, doctors and rural medical centres are facing the brunt of the distorted custom. Dr Chagan Patel of Gujarat had to pay Rs 10,000 when he attended to a patient left at his clinic in a serious condition.

Once the patient died, his relatives stormed the hospital and demanded compensation. Bodies brought to dispensaries for postmortem often lie in the open for days as hundreds of tribals converge awaiting montanna and neither the police nor doctors risk a postmortem till a settlement is arrived at.

The bizarre distortions in local customs mean even trivial cases like injuries or death of animals lead to montanna demands. In most cases a major share of montanna is taken by musclemen and panchayat members as their fee to decide the issue and organise an invasion and spent on a feast to celebrate the receipt of compensation. The family of the deceased, in whose name the violence is carried out, gets a few thousand rupees to spend on the last rites.

Montanna is now nothing but extortion and only the police and the local administration are empowered to tackle it. “We need to isolate trouble creators and build up saner voices,” says M.N. Dinesh, SP of Udaipur.

However, with accusations that the police, in many cases, benefit from the compensation, it seems unlikely that the evil will be curbed any time soon. After all, a human life in these rural pockets of ignorance and medieval custom is worth more dead than alive.

यहां मुआवजे के इंतजार में नहीं करते अंतिम संस्कार, घर में सड़ती रहती है लाश

राजस्थान में आज भी आदिवासियों में अजब-गजब परंपराएं हैं जो जिनसे कई परिवार बर्बाद हो रहे हैं। उन्हीं में से एक है मौताणा। राज्य के उदयपुर, पाली, सिरोही और बांसवाड़ा इलाके में इस परंपरा ने लोगों का जीना मुश्किल कर दिया है। यहां डेड बॉडी से भी रुपए कमाने की ये परंपरा लोगों के लिए नासूर बन गई है। जानिए इस परंपरा के बारे में
– राज्य के उदयपुर, पाली, सिरोही और बांसवाड़ा जिले के आदिवासियों में ये परंपरा फिलहाल खूब फलफूल रही है।

– पुराने समय में इस परंपरा की शुरुआत न्याय को ध्यान में रखकर की गई थी।
– तब इस समुदाय में किसी का मर्डर करने पर मृतक के परिजनों को मुआवजा देना पड़ता था। ये मुआवजा मारने वाले का परिवार देता था।
– मुआवजा नहीं देना पर चढ़ोतरा किया जाता था, जिसमें समुदाय के लोग कातिल के घर को लूट लेते थे और उसके घर को जला भी देते थे। अब इस प्रथा ने गलत दिशा पकड़ ली है। किसी की अस्वाभाविक मृत्यु के बाद उसके मौत का दोष किसी और के ऊपर मढ़कर जबरदस्ती उससे मुआवजे की मांग की जाती है।
सालों तक बॉडी को रख मांगते हैं मुआवजा
– राजस्थान में ही ऐसे कई केस आए हैं जिसमें कई वर्षों तक डेड बॉडी रखकर परिजन मुआवजे की मांग करते रहे।
– उदयपुर में मंडावा थाना इलाके में वर्ष 2014 में एक व्यक्ति की मौत के बाद परिजन उसकी मौत के दोषी से मुआवजे की मांग कर रहे थे।
– मुआवजा नहीं मिलने पर परिजनों ने डेड बॉडी का अंतिम संस्कार नहीं किया और बॉडी डेढ़ साल तक घर के बाहर सड़ती रही।
– मौताणा मांगने वाले लोग कोर्ट और पुलिस का सहारा नहीं लेते हैं बल्कि मामले को अपने एंड पर ही निपटाने की कोशिश करते हैं।
– मौताणा के तहत पीड़ित परिवार दोषी के परिवार को लूटने से लेकर उसकी जान लेने तक का हक रखता है।
– दोषी न होने पर भी कई परिवारों को चढ़ोतरा का सामना करना पड़ता है। ऐसे में वे लूट लिए जाते हैं और उनके घर भी जला दिए जाते हैं।


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