Udaipur : The tribal tradition of death compensation is increasing lawlessness and crime in remote villages. The most recent high voltage drama of the death of 90-year-old woman at a village in Salumber , made to believe a ‘burnt alive’ case , had too been a gimmick to preclude Mautana claim. The report of the old woman burnt alive had shocked not only the police but the common people who sympathized with the victim’s family over the horror act. But the investigation results proved otherwise and the accused came out to be the prey of conspiracy.
The old lady’s son and 6 grandsons had scripted her ‘ death act’ to avert Mautana demand by the person who was alleged to have set the house on fire. Among the family members involved in the conspiracy is a Patwari and his mother who is a member of panchayat samiti. According to the police, Bhera son of Harja, a resident of Kalipole village in Bedawal gram panchayat had called the police on Saturday night to inform that a neighbor Manaram and his aides had set his house on fire and his old mother was burnt alive. The police rushed to the scene and controlled the fire with the help of villagers while the victim’s family had been standing there as mere witnesses. The police smelled foul in the behavior of the family members who had taken care to rescue goats from the flames but left the old lady unattended when the house was set ablaze. During investigation, the police found statements of the family members to be contradictory. Jamudi’s son Bhera, daughter-in-law, six grandsons Ramlal, Kesia, Khatia, Nathia, Bhatiya and Haliya behaved normally without observing the compulsory rituals of ‘Shok’ (grief ) which made suspicions grow stronger.
Police interrogated Jamudi’s daughter who lived in Lasadiya, a nearby village and was shocked to know she had no idea of her mother’s death. Bhera was detained at the police station who initially stuck to his allegations on Manaram to have killed his mother in the fire incident. However, the police who had found the old woman at one of their relatives home in a nearby village produced her before Bhera who could no longer continue his false stories. Bhera confessed to have conspired with his sons to make a false case to hook up Mana. One of his son Ramlal, is a patwari at Matasula village who scripted the act. “Mana’s son Shankar was killed in a road accident in Dungerpur a year ago and Ratna Meena (Bhera’s relative) was with him who escaped the mishap. However, Mana believed that Ratna and Bhera were responsible for Shankar’s death and since then had been claiming death compensation from them” Herambh Joshi, the circle inspector of Salumber police station said. Bhera and his sons were tired of Mana’s nagging for money and thus planned a story to hook him up in false murder charge of the old lady. The cops have rounded up all the men and have lodged a case of false evidences and wrong information against them.
Mautana: is an old tradition prevalent among the tribal communities of South Rajasthan. ‘Mautana’ has been made of two words- ‘Maut’ and ‘Ana’ which means “death money” or money claimed as compensation for an unnatural death. The tradition started among the tribal people with the noble intention of providing relief to the victim’s family when families clashed with each other in the remote areas to gain control over resources. However, over the years, it has turned into a deadly culture with an addition of another custom “ Chadhotra’. If a family is unable to pay Mautana, the victim’s side would simply destroy its property, forcing it to migrate from the village in what is known as chadhotra .