Maharashtra: Thieves steal ashes from crematorium to retrieve gold

09:50 AM Apr 14, 2023 | PTI |

In a bizarre case, unknown thieves stole the ashes of a woman a day after her cremation, ostensibly to retrieve the gold jewellery she was adorned with during the funeral rites, officials said on Thursday.


The incident occurred at the Pandhapur’s civic-run Vaikunth Crematorium in this famed temple town – renowned for the Shri Vitthal Rukmini Mandir, where the reigning Chief Minister performs the traditional Maha-Pooja on Ashadhi Ekadashi.

The officials said that an elderly woman Rakhmabai Deokar, who passed away on Tuesday, was brought to the crematorium and her last rites were performed.

As is the custom in some communities, her body was decked with certain items of gold jewelery during her cremation, usually comprising a gold guinea in the mouth, or a gold mangalsutra, or earrings, or nose-rings, or finger-rings, etc.

The next day, (Wednesday), her mourning family and relatives landed at the crematorium to collect her ashes (asthi) along with the gold, for the post-funeral Hindu ceremonies.


However, they were stunned to discover that all the ashes underneath the funeral pyre had been totally swept clean – along with the gold in it – by some unscrupulous gold-diggers.

The relatives and others staged a sit-in protest at the crematorium and later lodged a complaint with the Pandharpur police which is probing the matter.

Local Marathi media person Sunil Umbre said that such thefts are regularly taking place here, but most grieving relatives don’t bother to highlight such incidents as they are busy with the post-funeral rituals.

“In the present case, the deceased woman’s family is well to do and influential and they have raised a strong protest, including lodging a police complaint. Moreover, given their affluent background, they had decked the woman’s body with a considerable quantity of gold jewelery,” said Umbre.

Police suspect some local gangs which keep an eye on such funerals, especially women, and after the cremation, they filter the ashes to retrieve the gold and sell it off at huge profits, as the gold rates are currently in the range of Rs 60,000/tola.

Several aghast citizens have now demanded that CCTV cameras be installed in all crematoriums to prevent similar incidents in future.




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