The followers of two of the largest indigenous faith organisations in Khasi-Jaiñtia Hills have complained to the State government that their members face continued obstruction towards the construction of crematoriums, which are a religious necessity in the disposal of their dead.
Today the state government held an open meeting with representatives of the indigenous faiths, such as the Seng Khasi and Seiñ Raij, in compliance with an order of the High Court of Meghalaya that such a meeting be held on the matter of cremation grounds.
Opposition for new facilities has been faced from traditional institutions, such as Dorbar Shnongs, while even some existing cremation grounds face trouble as the area around them has become more residential.
“In Jaiñtia Hills we are facing resistance from the members of the traditional bodies for construction of a crematorium,” President of the Sein Raij Jowai, OR Challam, said, adding that this even extends to eco-friendly crematoriums, the design of which was arrived at by the late Kambel Shullai.
“The government had supported the construction of the crematorium, which is pollution-free and less expensive,” Challam said. It had even provided financial support for the construction of around 20 such crematoriums but this funding ended in 2016-17.
New ones built since then rely on funding from MDC, MLA and MP schemes.
Challam pointed out that in Mynso village the followers of the Seiñ Raij are constructing a crematorium with funding from the MP and MLA but the project was halted halfway by the traditional bodies.
“This issue has reached the office of the Deputy Commissioner of West Jaiñtia Hills but we don’t know the status of the matter,” he added.
Meanwhile, President of Seng Khasi Seng Kmie, Donkupar Dkhar, said that there are several cremation grounds that have been used by the Seng Khasi for decades.
“But now there is opposition since there are houses which have come up near these cremation grounds,” he stated, citing a 2017 example where there was opposition to the cremation of the body of a Seng Khasi elder in Mylliem, with locals against it because it had become a residential neighbourhood.